3 teens charged in San Diego Craigslist killing

AP News
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Posted: May 13, 2011 9:04 PM
3 teens charged in San Diego Craigslist killing

An 18-year-old college student died from a bullet to his chest as he chased three teens who robbed him and his girlfriend when he was buying a computer advertised on Craigslist for $600, a prosecutor said Friday.

Details of the killing emerged at an arraignment for three 17-year-old males who were charged as adults with murder, robbery and shooting at an occupied vehicle.

Superior Court Judge Joseph Brannigan entered not guilty pleas on their behalf and set bail at $5 million each _ $3 million higher than the amount sought by prosecutors.

Prosecutors have said Garrett Berki died late Wednesday after he and his girlfriend met suspects Rashon Abernathy, Seandell Jones and Shaquille Jordan in San Diego to buy an Apple MacBook Pro. One teen pulled a gun and robbed the couple of cash and their cell phones, authorities said.

A car chase followed, with Berki pursuing the assailants on a freeway and city streets before he was shot as he tried to box them in on a dead-end street, prosecutor Kristian Trocha told reporters. Abernathy is suspected of firing a single shot from the back seat, shattering Berki's windshield, Trocha said.

Police said Berki, a San Diego community college student, was trying to read his assailants' license plate during the pursuit. Officers found him slumped over the steering wheel, and he died less than an hour later at a hospital.

All three suspects were arrested within minutes of the shooting, hiding in back yards after crashing their car in a cul-de-sac about two blocks from the shooting scene, authorities said.

Patricia Dykes, Jordan's mother, told reporters her son was "hurting" because someone got killed. She said he was a straight-A student preparing to graduate from high school. She emphasized that he was not accused of pulling the trigger.

"He told me he's going to write a letter to the (victim's) family that he's sorry for whatever happened, but that he didn't ... do anything violent to anyone," Dykes said.

Shearese Johnson, the mother of Jones, said her son didn't kill anyone and called the charges unfair. Jones is suspected of being the getaway driver after the robbery.

"All I'm going to say is I love my son, and I'm here, and this just isn't fair," Johnson said.

If convicted, the three teens could face maximum sentences of life in prison, prosecutors said.

Trocha told reporters all three were equally responsible for the death, even though Abernathy is the only one accused of firing a gun.

"All of them participated in the robbery. The murder was part of this robbery in trying to escape," Trocha said. "It's as if they pulled the trigger themselves."

Trocha said all three defendants were gang members _ a claim met with skepticism by the two mothers.

Kevin Milmoe, a public defender, said Abernathy and Jordan had no criminal record.

The judge said he would appoint a public defender for each of the three teens.