Jury selection is expected to begin Tuesday in the trial of three teenage gang members accused of killing a young college student after luring him to a late-night robbery in Paradise Hills by posting a $600 computer for sale on Craigslist.
Rashon Jay Abernathy and Shaquille Kasiya Jordan, both 18, and Seandell Lee Jones, 19, are charged in the May 11, 2011, shooting death of 18-year-old Garrett Berki, a 2010 graduate of La Jolla High School. The victim lived with his mother in Mission Beach and attended Mesa College.
Abernathy is also charged with stealing $600 from a Navy man who responded to a Craigslist ad to buy a similar computer on May 5 in Paradise Hills.
All three defendants are charged in adult court with murder, robbery, auto theft and shooting into an occupied vehicle, with an allegation that the crimes were committed for the benefit of a street gang.
At an earlier hearing, the prosecution said Berki and his girlfriend went to the Paradise Hills neighborhood to buy an Apple MacBook Pro computer for $600. When the victim pulled out his money, one of the defendants allegedly pulled out a handgun and robbed Berki and his girlfriend of the cash and their cell phones.
The victims saw the defendants get into a car driven by Jones and followed the suspect vehicle onto the freeway and back onto surface streets, the prosecution said.
When Berki tried to box in the suspect vehicle in a cul-de-sac, Abernathy—seated behind the driver—fired one shot through the windshield striking the victim in the chest, according to the prosecution. Berki died at a hospital.
The prosecution said the defendants’ car crashed near the crime scene, and they were captured in the backyards of homes in the area.
Abernathy faces up to 60 years to life in prison if convicted, and Jordan and Jones would face 50 years to life behind bars.
—City News Service