Randle murder suspect Jonathon Adamson on Thursday morning made an appearance in Lewis County Superior Court where he pleaded not guilty to an array of new charges filed against him last week.
Adamson, 21, has been in the Lewis County Jail since June 30, 2018, for allegedly killing 16-year-old Benjamin Eastman III. On Feb. 28, new charges were filed after prosecutors said updated information on the death came to light.
The most serious accusation now leveled against Adamson is first-degree aggravated murder, a charge that, upon conviction, carries a mandatory life sentence.
The hearing was a brief one as Judge James Lawler read through the 10 counts Adamson now faces, including new counts of first-degree kidnapping, first-degree assault, first-degree rendering criminal assistance and two counts of tampering with a witness. Adamson pleaded not guilty to each count, a common occurrence for an arraignment hearing.
Additionally on Thursday morning, a suppression hearing was scheduled in Adamson’s case for 1 p.m. June 24. The hearing is set to take around two hours and will cover “admissibility of statements,” according to Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer.
Meyer said on Thursday the chances of the case going to a jury trial were “very good” as far as his office was concerned.
“There was a settlement that we thought we had reached and that was rejected, so we’re just going to get ready to go to trial,” said Meyer.
He was referencing a hearing that had been set for the morning of Feb. 22. Adamson was expected to plead guilty during the hearing. His attorney, Don Blair, said Adamson indicated to him that he had decided against pleading guilty after all. The details of what the settlement was between Adamson and prosecutors were not made public.
The trial is currently set to begin the week of Aug. 5, and would likely span about four weeks. A larger pool of potential jurors will be gathered than is traditional, said Meyer. He explained that the seriousness of the case, and how wide of an audience its coverage has found, could make finding unbiased jurors more difficult.
Adamson is accused of the June 24 beating death of Eastman. Adamson’s brother, Benito Marquez, 17, who is also accused in the slaying, pleaded guilty on Feb. 22. As part of his plea agreement, Marquez would likely take the stand against his brother, as would Adamson’s mother, Kindra Adamson, and Emma Brown, a person identified in court documents as his fiancé. Both pleaded guilty to misleading authorities during their investigation into Eastman’s disappearance.
According to a statement on the plea of guilty in Marquez’s case, on June 24, 2018, he and Adamson were camping, when they decided to lure Eastman into the woods with the intention of killing him.
“We knew that he would not suspect that we were going to kill him and used that trust to our advantage,” reads the document.
The alleged beating lasted somewhere between 20 and 45 minutes. At one point, Eastman got free and ran to his assailants’ car, locking himself inside. Adamson then allegedly unlocked the vehicle and Eastman was pulled out for the beating to continue.
Adamson allegedly cut Eastman across the back with a box cutter and raped him with a stick.
“After murdering (Eastman), we buried his body near the scene of the crimes. After discussing the matter with our mother, my brother and I decided to move the body to our grandparents’ property,” the document reads.
Deputies investigating Eastman’s disappearance found his body in a shallow grave on June 28. A cross made of sticks marked the grave.