2 more arrested in beating of ASU fraternity member

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by Catherine Holland

Video report by Jared Dillingham

Posted on September 5, 2013 at 9:11 AM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 11 at 7:24 AM

TEMPE, Ariz. – Tempe police have arrested two more young men in connection with the brutal beating of an Arizona State University student. That brings the total number of arrests in the case to three.

Harsimrandeep Bhatti, 19, and Joshua Drew James, 21, were taken into custody Wednesday. Police booked both of them on one count each of unlawful imprisonment.

A judge set secured appearance bonds of $3,600 each for Bhatti and James. They are scheduled to return to court for status conferences on Sept. 12 and preliminary hearings on Sept. 16.

Police arrested Kiernan Bates, also 19, on Tuesday. He faces one count each of aggravated assault and unlawful imprisonment. Bates made his first court appearance Wednesday. A judge set bail at $5,400. Bates is due back in court for a status conference for Sept. 11, followed by a preliminary hearing for Sept. 13.

According to police, the suspects and the 19-year-old victim are members of rival fraternities. Investigators say the suspects are associated with the fraternity Pi Kappa Alpha, generally known as PIKE, while the victim is a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon, known as SigEp.

The three arrests come in the wake of a beating that took place early Monday morning at a luxury apartment complex called The District on Apache.

It's not clear if the incident had anything to do with the suspects' and victim's fraternity affiliations.

Residents found the victim, who has not been identified, in an elevator. He had been badly beaten and suffered several facial fractures, including one that required doctors to wire his jaw shut.

Part of the incident was caught on surveillance video. That video shows several guys, including Bhatti, James and Bates, surrounding the victim, forcing him towards the elevator.

Bhatti told police that he "escorted" the victim to the elevator, but denied using force to get him inside.

There is no video footage that shows what happened once Bates and James were in the elevator with the victim.

According to court paperwork, a witness said she saw Bates and James standing over the victim when the elevator opened. She told police the young men had blood on their hands.

In talking to detectives, James shared his version what happened before the victim was attacked.

James told investigators that the victim had invited himself into Bates' apartment. Despite being escorted out, the victim, who appeared to have been drunk, kept trying to kept back in, according to court paperwork.

"James stated they decided to take the victim back to his apartment, which was located on the fourth floor," reads the probable  cause statement. While he admitted that he kept the victim from walking away, James said he never threw a punch

"James denied striking the victim at all and stated there was a struggle between the victim and Bates," according to court paperwork.

The witness and a manager at the apartment complex identified Bates. Police took still photos from the surveillance video to Bates' roommates, who handed over Bhatti and James.

Students say fighting is not very common at The District, an upscale complex that more than 300 fraternity members call home.

3TV's Jared Dillingham and Natalie Brand contributed to this report.

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