Preston Lord killing trial moved to 2025; limits placed on news cameras

For the first time in two months, defendants charged in the killing of Preston Lord, 16, appeared together in Maricopa County Superior Court.

In a hearing Thursday, Treston Billey, 18; William "Owen" Hines, 18; Jacob Meisner, 17; Talan Renner, 17; Taylor Sherman, 19; and Dominic Turner, 20, were spaced out in the jury box of a courtroom. Talyn Vigil, 17, who is out on bail, appeared virtually.

Two topics dominated the hearing: whether news cameras would be allowed in the courtroom and the trial schedule.

Lawyers for the defendants objected to the use of cameras in the courtroom.

"The television camera is a powerful weapon," said David Cantor, Renner's attorney, who led the argument against cameras. Referencing a news station's video camera in the courtroom, Cantor said he felt like there was a 50-caliber weapon pointed at him. He said if cameras were allowed, the trial would need to be moved elsewhere.

"This jury pool is becoming more and more tainted against Mr. Renner and all of the defendants," Cantor said.

95 assaults, 29 arrests: 'Gilbert Goons' videos raise questions on lack of police action

Judge Bruce Cohen decided to allow the use of news cameras during courtroom proceedings, saying they were public hearings and their use may help deter false narratives about what happens in court.

But Cohen placed limits on how the defendants could be captured, specifically saying their faces could not be shown. He said the topic could be reconsidered in the future.

Cohen moved on to discuss a realistic trial date. Before Thursday, the tentative date was scheduled for November.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers acknowledged the complexity of the case — with multiple defendants and an overwhelming amount of evidence to assess. One defense lawyer said they received nearly 400 videos to review.

Both sides said they would like periodic hearings to discuss the case's progress.

The new trial date was scheduled for July 21, 2025. The next hearing in which all defendants were to appear was scheduled for Aug. 8, 2024.

Thursday's hearing was the first time Lord's aunt, Melissa Lord, saw the defendants in person, she said.

"Up until this point the faces of these monsters and their parents have been characters in a bad movie, I've seen and read about online," she wrote in a public Instagram post. "Today seeing their faces in person, makes it real and solidified this nightmare as our reality."

The seven defendants were accused of beating Lord at an Oct. 28 Halloween party in Queen Creek. Lord died two days later.

The defendants were arrested by police in March and charged as adults with first-degree murder and kidnapping. Billey, Meisner and Turner also were charged with aggravated robbery in connection with a necklace that authorities say was taken from Lord's friend as the attack unfolded.

A December investigation by The Arizona Republic first tied Lord's beating to the "Gilbert Goons," a gang of teenagers whose attacks on teens went unchecked by authorities for more than a year.

Elena Santa Cruz is a criminal justice reporter for The Republic. Reach her at Follow her on X @ecsantacruz3.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Preston Lord killing trial moved to 2025; limits placed on TV cameras