3 Arraigned in beating of ASU fraternity member; 1 suspect a no-show

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX – The three Arizona State University students accused of beating a fellow student were arraigned Monday, but only two of them showed up for the proceeding.

Harsimrandeep Bhatti, 19, and Joshua Drew James, 21, and Kiernan Bates, also 19, were arrested earlier this month in connection with the severe beating of a student in an elevator at a luxury apartment complex called The District on Apache.

The three suspects are all members of Pi Kappa Alpha, generally known as PIKE. The 19-year-old victim, whose jaw had to be wired shut, is a member of rival fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon, known as SigEp. It’s still not clear if those fraternity affiliations had anything to do with the alleged assault, part of which was caught on surveillance video.

That video shows Bhatti, James and Bates with the victim right outside the elevator, but there is no footage of what happened inside.

According to court paperwork, Bhatti told police that he "escorted" the victim to the elevator, but denied using force to get him inside. It also documents what James told investigators -- that he never hit the victim, himself, but that there was a struggle between the victim and Bates.

Bates was arrested the day after the beating. Police took Bhatti and James into custody two days after that.

Bates faces one count each of aggravated assault and unlawful imprisonment. Bhatti and James were booked on one count each of unlawful imprisonment.

While Bhatti and Bates were in court for Monday morning's short proceeding, James did not show up.

The judge read the formal charges anyway.

Both Bhatti and Bates entered not-guilty pleas. Both are slated to appear in Commissioner Jeffrey Rueter's court on Thursday, Nov. 7.