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Colorado teen pleads guilty to rock attack on car that killed female driver

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A Colorado teen has pleaded guilty for his role in a deadly rock-throwing spree with his pals that killed a 20-year-old woman in Denver last year. 

Zachary Kwak, 19, was one of three teens who threw landscaping rocks at several cars in April 2023 – with one rock smashing through the windshield window of a car being driven by Alexa Bartell. 

Kwak, of Arvada, pleaded guilty on Friday to one count of first-degree assault, one count of second-degree assault and an added count of criminal attempt to commit assault, Fox 31 reports.


He was previously charged with murder but pleaded guilty as part of a plea deal and will serve no less than 20 years but no more than 32 years. He will be sentenced on Sept. 3 

Prosecutors say that Kwak, along Joseph Koenig and Nicholas “Mitch” Karol-Chik, threw rocks at six cars and injured multiple drivers after 10 p.m. on April 19. They were all 18 at the time. 

Earlier on April 19, they made plans to meet up and drove to Walmart together, where they picked up landscaping rocks from the edge of the store’s parking lot and loaded the rocks into Koenig’s pickup, according to an arrest affidavit previously obtained by Fox News Digital.

Throughout the rest of the night, the three suspects allegedly threw rocks at six different vehicles, including Bartell’s, killing the 20-year-old woman just before 11 p.m. as she was driving while talking on the phone with her friend. The investigator testified on Wednesday that the suspects were driving about 80 mph at the time.

Bartell’s friend told police that she was speaking with Bartell on the phone when she “abruptly stopped talking.” She was driving on the 10600 block of Indiana Street at the time, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO).


Joseph Koenig, Nicholas "Mitch" Karol-Chik and Zachary Kwak mugshots

After noticing that they had struck Bartell’s windshield, the three suspects turned back around and drove past the victim’s vehicle, which had swerved into a field, at about 50 mph to observe the damage. Kwak is accused of taking a photo of her vehicle as a “memento.”

Koenig allegedly declared the group “blood brothers” after realizing Bartell was dead, according to Karol-Chik’s interview with authorities.

Karol-Chik told investigators that Kwak became “excited” when he hit a vehicle with a rock. Kwak, meanwhile, told investigators that Karol-Chik would use “Marine” terminology, such as “contact left,” before hitting a vehicle to the left with a rock.

Bartell’s friend used a phone-finder app to track Bartell’s location and eventually found her stationary vehicle in a field off Indiana Street in Jefferson County and called police.

Investigators used cellphone data to identify the suspects, tying a common phone number that pinged at different crime scenes.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputy also testified that, based on his interviews with the suspects, Kwak and Koenig were the only two suspects accused of throwing the rock that killed Bartell.

Alexa Bartell's windshield

After investigators interviewed Kwak, he allegedly insisted that he did not throw the rock that killed Bartell. When the detective who testified Wednesday told Kwak, “I hear you,” he responded: “I don’t need you to hear me. I need you to believe me. I did not throw that rock.”

Bartell’s family was in the courtroom on Friday to hear Kwak make his guilty plea. They could be seen wiping tears from their faces during the 15-minute proceedings, FOX 31 reports. They offered no comment while leaving the courthouse.

Kwak was dressed in a jail uniform, handcuffed. He answered the judge’s questions, saying he understood his plea and its implications.

Investigators previously said that the trio had been throwing rocks at moving vehicles for about two months before their actions allegedly resulted in a fatality.

Koenig and Karol-Chik’s cases are ongoing. All three were initially charged with murder in the first-degree with extreme indifference.

Read the full article here

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