Suspects in murder of LJHS grad headed to trial
By Kelly Wheeler
City News ServiceThree gang members accused of fatally shooting a college student after luring him to a late-night robbery in Paradise Hills by posting a $600 computer for sale on Craigslist must stand trial for murder, a judge ruled Wednesday.
Rashon Abernathy and Shaquille Jordan, both 17, and Seandell Jones, 18, are charged in the May 11 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.
After a two-day preliminary hearing, Judge Joan Weber found that enough evidence was presented for the defendants to stand trial on charges of 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.
The juveniles are being prosecuted as adults.
Deputy District Attorney Kristian Trocha 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 pulled out a handgun and robbed the victims of the cash and their cellphones, according to the prosecutor.
Berki and his girlfriend saw the defendants get into a car driven by Jones and followed the suspect vehicle onto the freeway and back onto surface streets, Trocha 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, Trocha alleged.
Berki died at a hospital.
Trocha 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, Trocha said.
A Superior Court arraignment is set for Oct. 27.