Teen gunman sentenced for Craigslist murder

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SAN DIEGO — A 19-year-old man was sentenced Friday to decades in prison for fatally shooting a college student who was lured to a robbery by a Craigslist ad for a laptop computer.

Shaquille Jordan  and Rashon AbernathyRashon Abernathy had faced a maximum of 83 years to life behind bars. Judge Kerry Wells said that would constitute cruel and unusual punishment since the defendant was 17 at the time of the murder. Instead, the judge sentenced the teen to 50 years to life.

Co-defendants Seandell Jones and Shaquille Jordan — who were also convicted of first-degree murder — were scheduled to be sentenced later this afternoon.

“The motive in this case was pure greed,” the judge said before sentencing Abernathy.

Wells denied a motion for a new trial for all three defendants, saying her failure to give a certain jury instruction was harmless error.

The defendants were convicted in the May 11, 2011, robbery-slaying 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.

Prosecutor Kristian Trocha 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.

Seandell Jones Connie Berki said her son was loved by everyone.

“Six hundred dollars … that’s what my son’s life was worth,” she 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.

Abernathy’s attorney, Kathleen Coyne, told the jury that her client admitted the robberies and brandishing a gun but was not guilty of murder. She said Abernathy didn’t know the gun that killed Berki was loaded, and it discharged accidentally when Jordan suddenly hit the brakes.

Co-defendants Seandell Jones and Shaquille Jordan — who were also convicted of first-degree murder — were each sentenced to 25 years to life. Jones, a front-seat passenger in the getaway car, and Jordan, the driver, were 17-year-old friends of Abernathy at the time of the crimes.

 

11 comments

  • Gross

    I don't understand the phrase Cruel and Unusual Punishment for a guy who is 17…being 17 how does one year or less til your 18 make you any less culpable? Cruel and Unusual Punishment is the senseless murder of a human being for $600. This gutless, coward of society deserves more than a free meal ticket in prison paid for by actual productive members of society.

  • alan

    how does this guy get this he should be removed off the face off the earth i feel sorry so sorry for the victims family who have to live with the fact that this guy will remain alive while the victim is dead

    • B

      Some of you people are as sick as those who have commuted these crimes. “Rape the smirk of their face” come on. Have you met these boys? What if your child was in this situation? How would you respond then? Would you opt to kill them?

      • Johnnybbaby

        First of all my child would never be in that position because as a parent, I am part of his life which obviously is not the case with theirs.

        Second, would you be defending them if they killed your son over a $600 laptop?

        Third, If I could get away with killing them I would in an instant.

        You need to wake up from your dream world and get a dose of reality!!

      • Gross

        Why would I need to meet someone that is just going to shoot me for my money? An innocent person was murdered for $600 that he was going to "meet", why in the hell would I want to meet them.

        You downgrade their culpability by calling them "boys" as if a 17 year old is a boy. In a year or less he will be 18, please tell me how he goes from a boy to a man in a year or less? How would you feel seeing your child smirking as he faced murder charges in a court room?

        If my son or daughter committed this atrocious act on an innocent human being I would personally "escort" their butt into jail and once convicted would expect a life for a life, if I could hand the judgement down myself I would. For me to lie and sit there and say I have my murderer child alive and this man's family doesn't have their son, things are right in the world…I am sorry, I am selfish, but not that selfish.

  • thedevilswork

    I hope someone rapes that smerk off their face. I would put a bullet in it, pure trash!

  • presage

    If he was raping your daughter you wouldn’t call him a “child” ….and he would lick his lips ans smirk at you too, you defender of devils! That kid pleading not guilty for killing Nick Hart has the same body language, just a different spin with his ” I LOVE YOU SO MUCH” BS on his cast…. Different devil-same act- too bad California can’t stomach the death penalty…. Wants to shovel the turds back into society- as long THEY don’t get hit in the head with their sh#t

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