The three teenagers charged with murdering Alexa Bartell with a “landscape rock” while the 20-year-old was talking on the phone with a friend last week have been officially booked, photographed and identified as high school seniors.
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office in Colorado announced yesterday that it had made three arrests in the death of Bartell, a killing that law enforcement officials deemed first-degree “extreme indifference” murder. Joseph Edwin Koenig, Nicholas “Mitch” James Karol-Chik and Zachary Kwak, each 18-year-old Arvada residents, are accused of committing the Wednesday, April 19, rock-throwing that took Bartell’s life.
CBS News Colorado reported that the defendants attend school at Ralston Valley High School, Standley Lake High School and online, though the report did not specify which teenager is enrolled where.
When authorities first began investigating the case, they said the suspect, “possibly from a vehicle or on the side of the road, threw a large rock at the victim’s vehicle, which struck and killed her.” Investigators, who said they may have been looking for a pickup truck, eventually found a black 2016 Chevy Silverado they linked to the deadly crime.
The rock that smashed Bartell’s windshield and killed her sent the driver’s Chevy Spark off the road, causing her to smash through a fence and come to rest in a field. A friend was on the phone with Bartell when everything went quiet.
“Moments before she was killed, Alexa was on her phone talking to a friend when the phone went silent,” the sheriff’s office said. “Alexa’s friend tracked her phone and drove to the scene on Indiana St. She found Alexa fatally wounded inside her car, which was off the road in a field.”
The investigation quickly determined that there were several rock-throwing incidents on the night of Bartell’s death, as well as one after midnight on April 20. In at least four of those incidents, “landscape rocks,” described as larger than softballs, smashed the windshields of vehicles.
“Overnight Tuesday, April 25 – Wednesday, April 26, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Investigators arrested three suspects in connection with the death of 20-year-old Alexa Bartell. Alexa was killed when a rock was thrown through her windshield as she was driving northbound in 10600 block of Indiana Street at approximately 10:45 p.m. on Wednesday, April 19,” the sheriff’s office said. “Alexa’s vehicle was the last in a series of vehicles to be struck by large landscape rocks in a trip that began shortly after 10 p.m. that night at 100th and Simms in Westminster.”
Authorities have credited “mobile device investigation and supporting information from the public.” According to the latest reporting, warrants for cell phone company data “geofencing” allowed investigators to place the suspects’ phones near the series of crime scenes.
In Colorado, first-degree murder is committed by extreme indifference when there are “circumstances evidencing an attitude of universal malice showing extreme indifference to the value of human life in general”—when a defendant or defendants “engage in conduct that creates a serious risk of death to a person or persons other than himself, thereby causing the death of another.”
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