One evening ruined the lives of four young people. The reckless actions of three teenage boys led to the death of a 20-year-old young woman. Now the three teens face serious consequences for their actions.
What did they do to get charged with murder, and how might their lives change forever?
Reckless Actions Lead to a Death
On April 19, three 18-year-olds drove around Arvada, Colorado in a black 2016 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck, causing danger and damage. Joseph Koenig, Nicholas Karol-Chik, and Zachary Kwak, all high school seniors at separate schools, were in the vehicle.
As they drove around, the teens threw large landscaping rocks at passing vehicles. The rocks weighed between three to five pounds each, as reported by NBC News.
After hitting six other vehicles, the teen’s car approached the car of 20-year-old Alexa Bartell at around 10:45 p.m.
As Bartell passed the teen’s vehicle, they threw a rock at her. The rock crashed through the window, hitting Bartell.
Bartell had been on the phone with a friend when the rock hit her car. When she went silent, the friend tracked Bartell’s phone and drove to the location. There, she found her friend off the roadway in a field dead.
Reckless Actions Lead to First-Degree Murders Charges
Less than a week after the accident, the three teens were arrested and charged with first-degree murder with extreme indifference.
Tips from the public and cell phone data helped identify the three teenagers as the culprits.
After the arrest, Karol-Chik reportedly told police that all three teens threw rocks at cars. He said Kwak threw the rock that hit Bartell and that the boys turned around and took a photo of her car. Kwak reportedly said the teens agreed to never speak of the incident again, according to reporting by ABC News.
The three teens now face serious consequences for their reckless actions.
Related: If You’re Arrested for a Crime, Immediately Take These 6 Steps
What’s First-Degree Murder With Extreme Indifference?
All three of the teens are charged with first-degree murder with extreme indifference.
First-degree murder is the most serious form of homicide in Colorado. It is defined as a homicide that is intentional, malicious, and deliberate.
The punishment for first-degree murder in Colorado is, at a minimum, life in prison. The maximum punishment for first-degree murder is the death penalty.
The first-degree murder charge includes a charge of extreme indifference.
Murder in the first degree with extreme indifference is defined in Colorado statute 3-1:05 as the crime of murder “under circumstances evidencing an attitude of universal malice manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life generally, knowingly, engaged in conduct which created a grave risk of death to a person or persons other than himself, and thereby caused the death of another.”
The indifference charge is used in cases where a defendant is accused of intending harm with no specific victim.
One example of the use of the indifference charge is in 2012 Colorado movie theater shooting. In 2015, James E. Holmes was found guilty on charges of first-degree murder with indifference. Holmes committed an act to kill with no intended victim when he walked into a movie theater and opened fire.
The teens are accused of taking action to cause harm with no intended victim.
Possibility of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The teens will face criminal charges in court and a possibility of a wrongful death civil suit.
Bartell’s family could sue the teens for wrongful death. To sue for wrongful death, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant acted negligently and that their actions caused a death.
At this time, the family has not said if they will pursue civil charges. According to the sheriff’s spokesperson Jacki Kelley, the family is just grateful the individuals responsible are being held accountable.
Related: Examples of Wrongful Death Cases Worth Fighting For
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