Two teenagers charged as adults in the slayings of a Burlington County couple were ordered back to jail Thursday after a judge agreed with a prosecutor that they posed a threat to the community.
David Hardwick, 17, of Pennsauken, and Peter Leonce of Queens, N.Y., who recently turned 18, appeared separately for arraignments before Judge Samuel Natal in state Superior Court in Camden, where attorneys argued for $500,000 bail.
The men are charged with two counts of murder in the Feb. 22 gang-related slayings of Michael "Doc-Money" Hawkins, 23, and his girlfriend, Muriah Ashley Huff, 18.
Bail was set at $1 million for Leonce, whose history includes several arrests. Bail was set at $800,000 for Hardwick, who had no criminal history. Both face possible life sentences.
"These are very serious charges," Natal said. "There is a very strong motive to flee."
Prosecutors allege the victims were tortured for hours - beaten, stabbed, and choked - in a Berkley Street rowhouse in Camden. Hawkins also was shot at least five times.
In all, 10 people, including four juveniles, have been charged. The case against the youngest, a 14-year-old girl who dated Leonce, remains in juvenile court.
Authorities allege Hawkins and Huff stopped by the rowhouse, where members of the Bloods street gang lived. Hawkins was accused of being a member of the rival Crips gang, sources said.
Camden County Assistant Prosecutor Mary Alison Albright said Thursday that the victims had suffered greatly. "These are particularly hideous crimes," she said, adding that the slayings were among the worst she had ever seen.
Leonce's attorney, David S. Bahuriak, said his client had surrendered voluntarily and given a statement to investigators. Additionally, although one witness said Leonce had participated in the slayings, Bahuriak said other witnesses had said he was in another room during the assaults.
"He's admitted he was at the scene, but that doesn't mean he's guilty of murder," Bahuriak said.
Albright said Leonce's criminal history dated to a 2007 marijuana arrest in Gloucester County. He violated the terms of a diversion program and was placed on probation for two years.
He was charged again in 2007 for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest in Deptford. The charges are pending. In 2008, he was charged with possession of a weapon, conspiracy, and robbery in Gloucester County. Five months later, he was found guilty of conspiracy to commit robbery and was placed on two years' probation.
Hardwick's attorney, Timothy Riley, noted that his client had no criminal record or contact with law enforcement. Additionally, he said, Hardwick's relatives, who attended the hearing, have been supportive. Although Hardwick dropped out of school in 10th grade, he received an equivalency degree.
"At this point, he's cloaked with the presumption of innocence," Riley said.