Verdicts were reached today in the trial of three alleged gang members charged with the murder of a college student who was lured to a late-night robbery in Paradise Hills by a Craigslist ad for a laptop computer.
Judge Kerry Wells said the verdicts for Rashon Abernathy, Seandell Jones and Shaquille Jordan will be announced Thursday morning. Jurors deliberated four days before reaching their decisions.
Abernathy is charged with 19-year-old friends Seandell Jones and Shaquille Jordan in the May 11, 2011, robbery-murder of 18-year-old Garrett Berki, a 2010 graduate of La Jolla High School.
Abernathy, 18, is also charged with stealing $600 from a Navy man who responded to a Craigslist ad to buy a similar computer on May 5, 2011.
In addition to murder and robbery, the defendants are charged with shooting into an occupied vehicle, auto theft, and an allegation that the crimes were committed for the benefit of a street gang.
In his closing argument, Deputy District Attorney Kristian Trocha said Berki died because Abernathy “brought a gun to a robbery.”
The prosecutor said Abernathy knew the gun was loaded and even went online to see how it worked.
Trocha said Abernathy used fake names to advertise computers on Craigslist, inviting the victims to meet him in areas several blocks from his home.
The prosecutor said Berki went to Paradise Hills about 10 p.m. with his girlfriend to buy a MacBook Pro computer advertised on Craigslist for $600. Abernathy wanted to see the money, but Berki wanted to see the computer, Trocha said.
The defendants grabbed the money and the victims' cell phones and got into a stolen car driven by Jordan, the prosecutor alleged.
Berki and his girlfriend were headed to report the theft when he spotted the defendants' car and gave chase on state Route 54, Trocha said. The cars exited the freeway several miles away and ended up front-to-front in a cul-de- sac.
Abernathy allegedly fired one shot through the windshield of the victims' car, striking Berki in the shoulder. He died about 45 minutes later.
Jordan drove off but crashed the car in a nearby cul-de-sac and the defendants ran, only to be arrested a short time later, Trocha said.
Abernathy's attorney, Kathleen Coyne, told the jury that her client admitting doing the robberies and brandishing a gun, but was not guilty of murder.
—City News Service