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Details of Maher stabbing emerge at preliminary hearing

By David Velazquez
Casper Star-Tribune
Via- Wyoming News Exchange

CASPER — More details about the stabbing of a 14-year-old boy who later died outside a mall in Casper were revealed during a preliminary hearing for the two minors arrested in the incident. 

Dominique Antonio Richard Harris and Jarreth Joseflee Sabstian Plunkett, both 15, made in-person appearances in front of a packed courtroom on Thursday afternoon wearing bright red jumpsuits and handcuffs. 

Both are charged with felonious conspiracy to commit murder, felonious aggravated assault and battery and a misdemeanor theft. Plunkett is also charged with first-degree murder. 

Casper Police Department Detective Tiffany Elhart was brought forward as a witness as Natrona County Circuit Court Judge Nichole Collier presided over the hearing. 

Requests to reduce bail for Harris and Plunkett were denied. 

Harris’ attorney, Brandon Booth, pushed back on the charge that Harris conspired to commit murder as he believes Harris didn’t know Maher would be stabbed. 

“In order to conspire [Harris] would have to know [Plunkett] was going to stab [Maher,]” Booth said to Collier. “This was a fight resulting in a tragic accident.” 


Robert Dean Maher, 14, was stabbed twice, once in the heart and once in the stomach, with a stolen kitchen knife outside Eastridge Mall on April 7. 

Maher later died at a hospital, according to Elhart’s testimony. 

Harris and Plunkett were arrested later that day between Long Lane and Carriage Lane near the mall. 

Police responded to a call in front of Hibachi Supreme Buffet at 1:41 p.m., according to an affidavit. A police interview with one of Maher’s friends, who accompanied him to the mall, alleged that Maher received a call from his girlfriend saying that she was being followed by two guys, and Maher went to the mall to keep her safe. 

The pair — Harris and Plunkett — were asking Maher’s girlfriend about Maher’s location and if he was coming to the mall, according to Elhart. 

At the mall, Maher found his girlfriend, and Maher and the pair ended up at the entrance of the mall besides Hibachi Supreme Buffet. 


Blood Debt 


Police interviews with Harris and Plunkett revealed that Plunkett had wanted to fight Maher for weeks before the stabbing due to being called “freaks.” 

During spring break — late March — Harris and Plunkett went into a port-a-potty together at a public park in Evansville and Maher, who was also at the park but not with Harris and Plunkett, allegedly said “what are you guys, freaks?” to the pair, according to testimony by Elhart. 

In his interview with the police, Plunkett said they went in together because it was cold outside. 

Elhart said that incident at the park spurred Harris and Plunkett to want to fight Maher. 

A video played in the court showed Plunkett asking a friend of Maher’s if he wanted to pay Maher’s “blood debt.” 

Elhart in testimony explained that a blood debt was defined as “wanting to have someone’s blood.” 

Elhart’s testimony additionally revealed that, during the same interaction, Plunkett asked where Maher lived and said that he wanted to fight Maher. 

Harris, in an interview with police, recounted that Plunkett — who had been drinking alcohol — said that he wanted to “gut that dude,” in reference to Maher the Friday before the stabbing. Plunkett also “put his hand through a window” out of anger and mentioned wanting a gun, having suicidal thoughts, and being angered, in reference to an ex-girlfriend that Friday, according to Elhart. 



The day of the stabbing, Harris and Plunkett were dropped off at the mall before noon. 

Plunkett and his stepfather had talked to Maher through social media earlier that day, according to Elhart. Elhart said Plunkett’s stepfather told Maher that if there is a fight, “to fight fair.” 

Elhart later in her testimony mentioned there were some inconsistencies with interviews of Plunkett’s family. 

At Target, Harris and Plunkett allegedly stole Red Bulls, sour straw candy and two kitchen knives with blades roughly 3.5 inches long. The packaging for both knives was found in the Target, according to Elhart. 

“[Harris] stated [Plunkett] had taken the knife knowing they were going to fight [Maher],” an affidavit states. 

Harris ultimately gave his knife to someone else prior to the stabbing, but Plunkett in his interview with police said he kept his knife because he “could not trust anybody.” 

Elhart recounted an event where Plunkett put his knife to another peer’s chest when the peer said he would make it a “two on two” fight if he fought Maher that day. 

Plunkett made a small cut to his thumb to “test the sharpness” of the blade, according to Elhart. 

An affidavit that detailed an interview with Harris stated that Harris said he did not want to hold a knife since he was on probation. The same affidavit confirmed Harris was on probation due to previous theft charges. 

The pair additionally brought to the mall and put on “shiestys” — a balaclava-style mask made of a thinner material. 


The fight 

Video of the altercation was presented Thursday. An affidavit stated that Maher “clearly did not want to fight,” because he was seen moving away from Plunkett continuously. Elhart testified that two recordings of the incident were obtained by the police. One of the recordings was from Maher’s girlfriend. 

Plunkett, in his interview with police, recounts that Maher told him to “put the knife away — this isn’t fair.” To which Plunkett responded by saying “I don’t play fair.” 

The video showed Maher continuously stepping back from Plunkett and roughly 12 juveniles were also present during the altercation. 

Harris wrapped his arms around Maher, lifted him and then slammed him to the ground onto his left side and pinned him, according to Elhart. In his testimony to police, Harris said he slammed Maher to the ground because he was angry about the port-a-potty incident and that “he wanted to make sure the fight was over,” according to an affidavit. 

Harris is seen holding Maher while Plunkett jumps in. Harris appears to strike Maher in the face, while Plunkett is observed swinging the knife in a downward motion, stabbing Maher twice, according to the affidavit. 

In police interviews, Harris and Plunkett confirmed that Maher never threw a punch, never slapped and never pushed anyone, according to Elhart. 

Maher got up holding his abdomen and walked back to the mall entrance doors. A third person is seen in the video kicking Maher as he walked toward the mall. 

Maher collapsed as he tried to go through the doorway with the help of his friend, according to an affidavit. 



Harris and Plunkett ran toward Verda James Elementary School following the altercation. A witness said they were laughing as they ran, according to Elhart. 

Elhart also testified that Plunkett tried to “hand off the knife,” but it was not accepted. 

Both took off their masks, and Plunkett threw the knife in the snow, according to an affidavit. 

In the affidavit, police officers said the masks and knife were recovered but were damaged due to weather conditions.


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