WEST PALM BEACH
Three teens will be held in Palm Beach County jail without bail on first-degree murder charges in the fatal shooting of a mixed martial arts fighter west of Boca Raton, a judge decided Saturday.
It was an emotional blow to the teens’ family, who told reporters after the hearing that they are innocent in the death of MMA fighter Aaron Rajman, 25, killed in his suburban Boca Raton home.
Summer Church, 16, and Roberto Ortiz and Jace Swinton, both 18, are also charged with two counts each of home invasion with a firearm or other deadly weapon.
All three defendants were indicted by a grand jury Thursday. Church will face charges as an adult. She was arrested Friday morning on her way to school at Olympic Heights High School in Boca Raton, where she is an 11th-grader.
Judge Ted Booras noted that a first-degree murder charge is a capital offense, meaning it’s punishable by the death penalty in Florida. That penalty could apply only to Ortiz and Swinton. In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the death penalty unconstitutional for anyone who committed the crime under age 18.
“She’s innocent,” Judith Church, Summer’s mother, said after the hearing.
Church also objected to her daughter being tried as an adult. “She should have been with the juveniles because she is a juvenile.”
Jace Swinton’s mother, who declined to share her name, also proclaimed her son’s innocence.
“He’s a very humble, sweet kid,” she said. She offered her condolences to the family of Rajman, who was killed while several men invaded his home late July 3, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.
A fight broke out and Rajman was shot before the men fled.
Summer Church and Swinton were friends of Rajman, Judith Church told reporters.
Summer Church of Boca Raton was not at the scene when Rajman was shot, but police paint her as the “mastermind” of the operation, Judith Church said.
The 16-year-old cooperated with detectives, who first contacted her the day after shooting, her mother said.
“We helped them in every way we could,” Judith Church said.
The families declined to share further details of the case. Judith Church did, however, say the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s investigation was incomplete.
“It’s a shame for them to let her go to jail knowing for a fact she wasn’t there (when the shooting happened),” Judith Church said.
Summer Church met Rajman in January at a convenience store in Boca Raton, her mother has said. Swinton, who was then dating Summer, also met Rajman and had been to his house.
Swinton attended Boynton Beach High School, according to his Facebook page.
It isn’t clear how the pair knew Ortiz, the only one of the three with a previous arrest record in Palm Beach County, according to court documents.
Ortiz — who attended Quantum High School, an alternative school in Boynton Beach, as recently as spring — was arrested on an armed robbery charge in January.
Ortiz and an unidentified man, who was armed with a semi-automatic handgun, robbed and beat a 17-year-old, the police report states. The charges were dropped after the victim refused to cooperate, according to the state attorney’s office.
Rajman, an Orthodox Jew, made his Mixed Martial Arts debut in April 2014 and had a 2-2 record as a professional. He was born in New York and moved with his family to Florida as a pre-schooler. A family friend said his parents later divorced, and for the past few years, he shared a home west of Boca Raton with his mother, his mother’s aunt and his younger brother.
Rajman family members attended the bond hearing but declined to comment.