Three teens who threw a rock onto the windshield of a woman driving in Denver causing her death last month are now facing 13 charges, including first-degree murder.
Zachary Kwak, Nicholas “Mitch” Karol-Chik and Joseph Koenig, all 18, were charged with first-degree murder for the death of Alexa Bartell, 20, First Judicial District Attorney Alexis King announced on Wednesday.
“Based on the available facts and after careful legal analysis, we have filed charges and will now move forward with a criminal prosecution,” King said in the statement.
The trio are also facing six counts of first-degree attempted murder, three counts of second-degree assault and three counts of second-degree attempted assault.
“It is important to remember that these individuals are presumed innocent unless and until they are proven guilty,” King added. “As in every case, our goal is to seek justice.”
The trio reportedly began throwing rocks at cars in Westminster City in Jefferson County around 10 p.m. on April 19.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, the three teenagers hit seven vehicles, injured three people and killed Bartell in the span of 45 minutes.
Bartell was speaking to a friend on the phone when the windshield of her car was hit by what authorities described as “large landscaping rocks” while driving along Indiana Street in Jefferson County at around 10:45 p.m., according to the arrest affidavit.
The friend Bartell was speaking to at the time noted that they traced her phone using the Find My iPhone feature after the call suddenly went silent.
Broomfield police and North Metro Fire Rescue officers arrived at the scene and found Bartell’s car with the victim inside. They said Bartell had a significant wound to her head and had no pulse, with one officer stating that her arm was “cold to the touch.”
Investigators also found the rock thrown at Bartell’s windshield on the side of the road.
During the investigation, police officers learned that another friend was with the trio on the night of the murder.
Joseph Bopp, 20, told police that the three suspects were “picking up landscaping rocks from the edge” of a Walmart parking lot and “putting them in the back seat” of Karol-Chik’s 2016 Chevy Silverado.
The document noted that Bopp asked the trio to take him home, which they did, as he knew “something bad was going to happen.” Bopp reportedly told investigators that Koenig liked “causing chaos” and often took part in “destructive behavior.”
The three teenagers, all 12th graders from Jefferson County public schools, were arrested on the night of April 25 and the following morning after authorities tracked them using cellphone site data, the arrest affidavit alleged.
While speaking to authorities, Karol-Chik said Koenig was driving the truck, and Kwak was the one who threw the rock at Bartell’s car that caused her death, which the latter allegedly admitted to investigators.
Kwak also told investigators that he took a picture of Bartell’s car after the fatal incident, thinking that one of them might “want it as a memento,” the affidavit alleged.
The arrest affidavit also alleged that the three suspects had been engaging in the behavior since February, when they started throwing objects, including a statue, at random vehicles. Karol-Chik admitted that he and Koenig had engaged in the dangerous activity on 10 separate days since then.
The trio appeared in court via Zoom from Jefferson County Jail on April 27 and reportedly showed no remorse during the hearing.
A memorial and justice fund have been set up in Bartell’s name.
All of the proceeds will reportedly go to assist the victim’s family in their future legal expenses, create a permanent memorial in Bartell’s honor and start an endowment fund for student athletes.
Donations can be made to the Alexa Bartell Memorial Fund at FirstBank, via Zelle at [email protected] or through the Venmo @Alexa-Bartell-4.
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