Two Bellevue teenagers have been charged with attempted first-degree murder after they were accused of attacking a 59-year-old man with a metal meat tenderizer and a wooden rod.
Joshua Fithian and Gabriella Laws, both 18, are accused of attacking Laws’ father, Robert Laws, in his bedroom in January. The two of them appeared Monday in Sarpy County Court. Each was ordered held on $1 million bail.
An affidavit filed in Sarpy County Court by Bellevue Police Detective Michael Legband said police responded to a home northeast of 48th Street and Nebraska Highway 370 shortly after 2 a.m. Jan. 17. An officer found Robert Laws in his bedroom with severe injuries to the left side of his face.
Laws’ wife, Maria, who sleeps in a separate bedroom, said she was awakened by a noise and found a wooden rod in the hallway. She then found her husband unresponsive in bed and a metal meat tenderizer on the floor. His CPAP mask still was secured to his face.
The detective said Robert Laws was taken to the Nebraska Medical Center with injuries so severe that he had to be placed in a medical coma to treat brain bleeding and cranial fractures. According to the affidavit, police think Robert Laws was attacked while he was sleeping.
Robert Laws later went to the Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital. He told police who interviewed him there on Feb. 10 that he didn’t remember the attack, but he “thought Josh may have been responsible” based on a previous argument.
Officers questioned Fithian, who indicated that he, Maria, Robert and Gabriella had an argument regarding Fithian’s history of sneaking in and out of the Laws’ home. Gabriella’s parents had told him to not be in the house between midnight and 7 a.m.
According to Fithian, after dinner on Jan. 16, he and Gabriella Laws went to the basement until 12:45 a.m. Fithian said he left through a basement window because he was there later than the prescribed time. Gabriella Laws told police that Fithian had left through the front door of the home.
While being questioned by police about the attack, Laws said, “I mean I don’t think it was my mom, and I don’t know, I didn’t do it but if I did in my sleep I don’t know.” Asked by police if she would be capable of assaulting her father, even accidentally, she said, “I hope not.”
Asked to clarify her response, she said, “Well if I did, well not, I mean I hope I would have never done that.”
Maria and Robert Laws filed a protection order against Fithian on Jan. 20. The protection order said Fithian told the Laws on Jan. 16 that he “wasn’t going anywhere” and planned to come into the house whenever he wanted.
Gabriella Laws’ DNA was taken to be compared to what was found on the wooden rod and meat tenderizer that were at the scene. A search warrant has been filed to obtain Fithian’s DNA.
Laws and Fithian also have been charged with two counts of assault, using a weapon to commit a felony and conspiracy to commit murder.