Three convicted of murder in Craigslist roberry-killing

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Three young men were convicted Thursday of first-degree
murder in the death of a college student who was lured to a late-night robbery
in Paradise Hills by a Craigslist ad for a laptop computer.

Rashon Abernathy, 18, and his 19-year-old friends, Seandell Jones and
Shaquille Jordan, were also convicted of robbery, shooting at an occupied
vehicle and auto theft.

After four days of deliberations, jurors determined that the defendants –
– who prosecutors said were gang members — did not commit the crimes for the
benefit of a street gang.

Abernathy, Jones and Jordan were convicted in the May 11, 2011, robbery-
murder of 18-year-old Garrett Berki, a 2010 graduate of La Jolla High School.
Berki's girlfriend went with him to check out the computer for sale and was
also a victim of robbery.

The jury also found Abernathy guilty of robbery for stealing $600 from a
Navy man who responded to a Craigslist ad to buy a similar computer on May 5,
2011.

“Everyone makes choices in life,” Deputy District Attorney Kristian
Trocha said after the verdicts. “They (the defendants) chose to join a gang
and chose to murder Garrett Berki.”

Jordan's attorney, Zaki Zehawi, told Judge Kerry Wells that the case
would likely be appealed and said his client would not speak to probation
officers about the incident. Attorneys for Abernathy and Jones said their
clients would also remain silent when they're interviewed in advance of
sentencing, which is set for Jan. 25.

Abernathy faces up to 60 years to life in prison. Jordan and Jones could
get 50 years to life.

In his closing argument, Trocha said Berki died because Abernathy
“brought a gun to a robbery.”

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. The
defendants grabbed the money and the victims' cellphones and got into a stolen
car driven by Jordan, he said.

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 fired one shot through the windshield of the victims' car,
striking Berki in the shoulder, the prosecutor said. Berki died about 45
minutes later.

Jordan drove off but crashed the car in a nearby cul-de-sac and the
defendants ran off, only to be arrested a short time later, Trocha said.

Later in a holding cell, the defendants admitted their roles in the
robbery-murder, the prosecutor 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. The attorney said her client should be convicted of involuntary
manslaughter.

Coyne said Abernathy didn't know the gun that killed Berki was loaded,
and it discharged accidentally when Jordan suddenly hit the brakes. She said
Abernathy was not a gang member and thought of the Craigslist robbery scam on
his own. When the shooting happened, the robbery was over, Coyne said.

“This is a tragedy, but it's not a murder,” she told the jury.

Jordan's mother, Patricia Dykes, commented about her son after the
verdicts.

“He was a straight-A student,” Dykes said. “He's never been in
trouble before. He's never been incarcerated before.”

Categories: KUSI