Three Colorado teenagers are set to face trial, accused of causing the death of a 20-year-old woman, Alexa Bartell. She was fatally struck by a landscaping rock that penetrated her car windshield on April 19. Investigators have stated that the trio had been involved in throwing rocks at moving vehicles for approximately two months prior to this tragic incident.
The suspects, Joseph Koenig, Nicholas “Mitch” Karol-Chik, and Zachary Kwak, all 18 at the time of the event, were arrested shortly after the incident. A preliminary hearing on October 18 determined that the teens will proceed to trial.
During the hearing, it was disclosed that the trio had engaged in similar acts of hurling rocks at vehicles on multiple occasions between February and April. In a specific incident earlier in April, two of the teens allegedly threw a landscaping “statue head” at a car containing a family.
The charges against the three teens include first-degree murder, extreme indifference, attempted first-degree murder, second-degree assault, and attempted second-degree assault.
On the night of Bartell’s death, it is alleged that between 10 p.m. and 12 a.m., the suspects targeted six vehicles, causing injuries to several drivers. The events of that night reportedly began with the teens gathering landscaping rocks from a Walmart parking lot.
A witness who observed the suspects loading the rocks into their vehicle recounted to police that Koenig had a history of engaging in disruptive behavior for the thrill of causing “chaos”. After their rock-throwing spree, which culminated in Bartell’s death, the three purportedly circled back to view the aftermath and, shockingly, took a photograph of the crash scene as a “memento.”
When the rock struck Bartell’s vehicle, she had been on a phone call with a friend. The conversation ended abruptly, prompting her friend to use a tracking app to locate Bartell. The discovery was grim; Bartell had sustained a fatal injury from the rock and was found dead in her vehicle, which had veered off the road into a field.
DNA analysis confirmed that the only DNA present on the rock was Bartell’s. While the suspects made conflicting claims about who threw the fatal rock, the prosecution maintains that all three were complicit in the act.
The arrests were executed at the teens’ residences in suburban Denver, facilitated by cellphone tower data and testimonies from another friend who had spent time with them earlier that day. This friend, concerned about the trio’s intentions after observing them collect rocks, requested to be driven home.
A decision on whether the suspects will face separate trials is pending, and defense attorneys are considering this possibility. A forthcoming hearing will provide the suspects with an opportunity to enter their pleas.