Final two friends sentenced in Adam Wells murder case | TahoeDailyTribune.com
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Final two friends sentenced in Adam Wells murder case

F.T. Norton
Photos by Chad Lundquist / Nevada Appeal / Danny Shaw, 21, received 20 years to life in prison on charges of second-degree murder and kidnapping.
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CARSON CITY – The final two defendants in the murder of Adams Wells were sentenced Tuesday in Carson City District Court.

Judge Michael Griffin had little sympathy for Juan Cervantes Jr., 21, when he sentenced him to two to 10 years in prison on a charge of principal to battery with a deadly weapon in the Oct. 5 strangulation and beating death of Wells, 20.

Despite a defense plea for six months in jail and five years probation, Griffin rejected the request, pointing out that Cervantes could have done something to stop Wells’ beating and eventual death.



“This is an act of cowardice against a friend,” Judge Griffin said. “When you get there you see there’s weapons involved and you lead (Wells) into the slaughter house.”

Cervantes and co-defendant Danny Shaw were the last of five young men – including Tyler Cruz, 24; Fred Bechtold, 21; and Malcolm Young, 21 – sentenced in Wells’ killing. According to court records, Shaw sought revenge on Wells, with whom he’d been friends since the sixth grade, for allegedly stealing marijuana and a safe from him. When Wells was invited to Shaw’s Stanford Drive home under the pretext of friendship, he was greeted at the door by Cervantes. Once Wells was seated, Shaw came from a bathroom and struck him in the head with a bat.



Cervantes contends he knew Shaw intended to confront Wells, but he was uninvolved and left before Cruz and Shaw bound Wells in 84 feet of rope at gunpoint, beat him repeatedly with a bat and hammer and then dumped his body in the desert. Cervantes said he tried to intervene, grabbing the bat and pushing away the shotgun, until Shaw and Cruz ordered him to leave. He said he left and never called for help.

Griffin was lenient, however, with Shaw who was called the “ringleader” and “mastermind” by investigators and the prosecution alike.

For a charge of second-degree murder, he gave Shaw 10 years to life in prison with a consecutive sentence of 10 to life and a concurrent sentence of five to 15 on a charge of kidnapping. Shaw will be eligible for parole in 20 years.

“This is a friend of yours and you leave him like a tramp in the field to die,” Griffin said. He went on to add that he didn’t believe Shaw intended to kill Wells, but that Cruz, whom he sentenced to the same fate, got some “delight” out of the assault.

Cervantes offered a tearful apology to the Wells family, and said that he sees his own father’s death from diabetes last week as divine punishment.

“I do want (the Wells family) to know I’m so sorry. It’s in my mind every day. When I had a chance to act and do something I didn’t. I ask God every day, ‘Why didn’t I act?'” He said. “Less than a week ago I lost my father and I loved my father very much. I feel the pain that I caused. God punished me and took (my father) away from me.”

Shaw read from a statement his own apology to the Wells family.

“I’d give anything in the world to go back. I take full responsibility for what I’ve done,” he said.

About 17 people offered testimony during the five-hour hearing Tuesday.

Friends and family of both Cervantes and Shaw stated the killing was out of character for each.

“From day one after this all happened, Danny couldn’t talk. He was in tears. He knew that he did wrong,” said Shaw’s uncle Joe Smith. “I know he didn’t mean to do it. There was so much good prior, it just can’t go away.”

“He’s a very good-hearted kid,” Cervantes’ sister Maricel said. “Juan is just a good person. He’s my support, it’s all I have left.”

Cervantes’ mother, Rosa, offered similar testimony through an interpreter.

“My son has been a good boy. His father and I wanted him to succeed. We have been an honest, hardworking family since we arrived in this country,” she said.

Then, looking directly at the Wells family, Rosa Cervantes pressed her fist against her chest and said through the interpreter, “I beg you from the bottom of my heart to please forgive me.”

Wells’ mother, Donna Wells, sitting in the gallery, was moved by the expression. She dabbed at her eyes as Rosa spoke.

Donna Wells said during her victim-impact statement she doesn’t think she’ll ever stop crying.

“I would not wish this on my worst enemy. I’m baffled how the sun can shine every day. Don’t people know how much I hurt? It’s just a constant ache from the inside out. It just feels like the inside is rotting away,” she said, weeping.

She recalled for the judge seeing her son’s battered body in the morgue, and how she can’t get that image out of her mind.

“I leaned down and whispered in his ear, ‘Adam baby, wake up. Baby, please, wake up.”


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