Three charged with murder in deadly Colorado rock-throwing spree

The three men accused of killing a 20-year-old woman while throwing rocks through random drivers’ windshields last month were formally charged Wednesday with first-degree murder, attempted murder, assault and attempted assault, according to the First Judicial District Attorney’s office.

Joseph Koenig, Nicholas “Mitch” Karol-Chik and Zachary Kwak, all 18, face life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted of first-degree murder in the death of Alexa Bartell. Authorities say one of the three teenagers threw a rock through Bartell’s windshield, killing her, just before 11 p.m. on April 19, as the two vehicles passed each other on Indiana Street near the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge.

Each man faces 13 charges: a single count of first-degree murder with extreme indifference; six counts of attempted first-degree murder, three counts of second-degree assault and three counts of attempted second-degree assault.

Bartell’s car was one of several the trio targeted in a spree of rock-throwing attacks that night across west metro Denver, authorities say. In addition to the attack on Bartell, six other cars were damaged and two drivers injured in the spree that spanned Boulder County, Jefferson County, Westminster and Arvada.

Investigators with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office initially used cellphone tower location data to zero in on the teenagers as suspects, and later in the investigation spoke to a witness who had been with the teens that night and saw them loading up their truck with landscaping stones from a Walmart parking lot. The witness — who left because he felt “something bad” was going to happen — told police that Koenig frequently participated in “destructive behavior” and that, when asked about it, Koenig said he liked to cause “chaos,” according to a sheriff’s office affidavit.

After their arrests, two of the men spoke with police about the attacks; they disagreed on who threw the fatal rock. Karol-Chik said it was Kwak; Kwak said the rock was thrown by Koenig. Koenig declined to speak with police.

The men told investigators they turned around after the rock hit Bartell’s car and returned to the scene to take a photo of the crash as a memento, according to an affidavit. The rock made a “very loud noise” when it hit Bartell’s car, Kwak told investigators. After the impact, he said, “‘We have to go back and see that,’” Karol-Chik told police.

The trio has been held without bond since their arrest last week and are scheduled to appear in Jefferson County District Court at 1 p.m. Wednesday for the return filing of charges.

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