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April 19, 2014

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New charges in death of girl hit by stray bullet

Updated Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 | 11:35 a.m.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Four men are facing new charges in the death of a 5-year-old Omaha girl who was hit by a stray bullet while eating breakfast in her family's home.

All four had been arrested earlier on suspicion of theft in connection with a stolen Jeep seen on surveillance video in the area where shots were fired on Jan. 15. Police believe that a bullet from the shooting about a block from Payton Benson's home killed the girl and that she was not an intended target of the gunfire.

The men now face charges more directly tying them to her death.

Vincent Hicks, 20, was booked Wednesday on suspicion of first-degree murder, criminal conspiracy and three felony weapons counts, and Adonus Moses, 22, was booked on suspicion of criminal conspiracy to commit second-degree murder, police said. Also, 18-year-old Jaylen Montgomery and 21-year-old Jacob Brown were booked on suspicion of discharging a firearm at an occupied dwelling and using a weapon to commit a felony. Montgomery faces an additional charge of being a felon in possession of a gun.

"These arrests are the product of a community that has stepped forward to assist law enforcement, coupled with gang and homicide detectives that have worked tirelessly to solve this case," Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said in a written statement Wednesday.

Hicks, Montgomery and Moses were arrested days after the shooting on suspicion of theft in connection with the Jeep stolen in December. Brown was arrested a week later, also on suspicion of theft.

Bill Eustice, an Omaha attorney appointed to represent Montgomery, said his client plans to plead not guilty.

"It's early," Eustice said. "We've not even seen any evidence in this case yet."

An attorney for Hicks did not immediately return a message left Wednesday seeking comment, and a public defender appointed to represent Moses declined to comment. Online court records do not show that Brown had a lawyer by Wednesday.