- Associated Press - Thursday, May 5, 2016

HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) - A Las Vegas man accused of orchestrating an elaborate abduction ruse and jewelry store robbery scheme that left two people dead was a victim, not the mastermind of the plot as prosecutors allege, his defense attorney said Thursday.

“There are some real questions about what really happened,” attorney John Turco said as Brian Kenneth Kleynen stood silently in shackles in court. “My client appears through the whole process to be a victim.”

According to police, Kleynen was bound with plastic ties in the back seat of a car with his friend, a jewelry store employee who pulled a concealed handgun and shot Lanard Lafare Wilson Jr. and Selvy Auston dead on April 12.

Kleynen is accused of plotting with Wilson, 34, and Auston, 25, to make it appear to his friend that Kleynen had been kidnapped in a midnight bid to rob the jewelry store.

Justice of the Peace Rodney Burr on Thursday declined to reduce bail for Kleynen, who remains in custody ahead of a May 17 preliminary hearing on kidnapping, conspiracy and attempted robbery charges. The 36-year-old could face life in prison if he’s convicted.

“Two people died,” the judge said. “Once we have the preliminary hearing, we’ll have a better picture.”

Turco said outside court that Kleynen intends to plead not guilty.

Police said that after seeing Kleynen apparently held captive in the car, and after seeing Auston hit Kleynen with a bat, police said the jeweler got in the vehicle. The jeweler then told Wilson and Auston that he needed to fetch keys from home to open the store.

On the way, police said the jeweler drew his legally-owned handgun and shot and killed Wilson, who was driving, and Auston.

The Clark County coroner said both men were shot multiple times. Police said the car rolled to a stop against a home on a residential street and caught fire. The fire was doused by Henderson firefighters. No one in the house was injured.

The jeweler wasn’t named in police reports. A message left Thursday at a Fashion Show mall store for a jeweler named in court documents wasn’t immediately returned.

Investigators decided the jeweler acted in self-defense, and prosecutors didn’t charge him with a crime.

Turco said the only evidence prosecutors have against Kleynen is his alleged admission during questioning by Henderson police.

But the defense lawyer said he had yet to see a transcript or a recording of the interview.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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