2 from Arizona plead not guilty in Vegas shooting

LAS VEGAS - A 21-year-old Arizona woman and her boyfriend pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Nevada state court to felony charges in a Christmas week shooting that critically wounded a motorist on the Las Vegas Strip.

A judge set a May 12 trial date for Brittanie Merritt-Burwell on charges of attempted murder, battery with a weapon and shooting into a vehicle. Joshua Youngblood, 28, will stand trial on a concealed weapon charge.

Clark County District Court Judge David Barker kept bail at $750,000 for Merritt-Burwell and $250,000 for Youngblood. They're being held at the Clark County jail in Las Vegas.

An indictment handed up last week accuses Merritt-Burwell, of Glendale, Ariz., of shooting another motorist in the neck late Dec. 23 in a traffic dispute, and then giving the gun to Youngblood who drove the vehicle from the scene.

Police said the wounded motorist was treated for critical injuries at University Medical Center.

Merritt-Burwell could face up to 41 years in state prison if convicted of all charges. Her lawyer, Deputy Public Defender Kambiz Shaygan, declined comment Wednesday.

Attorney John Parris, who is representing Youngblood, said he may seek a bail reduction for his client. Youngblood faces up to five years in prison if convicted.

Merritt-Burwell and Youngblood were arrested Dec. 30, a week after the shooting, when their vehicle was spotted at a fast-food restaurant a few blocks from the Strip.

Authorities said the dispute with the motorist may have developed after Merritt-Burwell and Youngblood were asked to leave a club at the nearby Hooter's casino-hotel.

Witnesses told police a woman got out of a Chevrolet Impala with Arizona license plates, approached the man's vehicle about 11:20 p.m. near Harmon Avenue, and shot him through an open driver's side window.

Police said Merritt-Burwell and Youngblood had been in Las Vegas for several weeks, and may have been involved in vehicle break-ins and other petty crimes at area hotels.

Police said Merritt-Burwell and another woman were questioned Dec. 18, five days before the shooting, by officers investigating a report of an attempted vehicle theft in the Hooters parking lot.

Merrit-Burwell and Youngblood have not been charged with any additional crimes.

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