Three 17-year-olds accused of posing as sellers on Craigslist and robbing an 18-year old La Jolla High graduate and his girlfriend, then allegedly shooting the man to death when he tried to follow their vehicle to get a license plate number, have pleaded not guilty today in adult court to charges related to the death and robbery, including gang allegations.
Rashon Abernathy, Seandell Jones and Shaquille Jordan are all held on $5 million bail and face 50 years to life in prison if convicted.
The three teens were arrested Wednesday night on suspicion of killing Garrett Berki, a 2010 La Jolla High grad, after allegedly luring him to the Paradise Hills neighborhood of San Diego by posing as sellers on Craigslist, according to police reports.
Berki, a Mesa College student who lived with his mother in Mission Beach, had reportedly gone with his girlfriend to the eastern San Diego neighborhood to buy an item he had seen for sale online. At the prearranged meeting location, Abernathy, Jones and Jordan allegedly pretended to sell the item before pulling out a gun and demanding cash and cell phones, according to police.
The three suspects reportedly fled the scene in a green Honda. Berki reportedly followed their vehicle for a mile to try to get the license plate number. The two cars drove into a cul-de-sac near Parkside Park and the Honda circled around and headed back toward Berki’s car, according to police reports.
As the vehicles were next to each other, one of the three suspects allegedly fired a shot that struck Berki, according to Lt. Kevin Rooney of the San Diego Police Department. The victim’s girlfriend was present throughout the incident and was unharmed, but her name was not released.
After the gunshot, the three suspects reportedly drove away from the cul-de-sac for a short distance before losing control of the car on the 3000 block of Fleming Way and fleeing on foot.
Officers searched the area by ground and air with a helicopter. The three suspects were arrested about a block from the site of the crash.
City News Service contributed to this report.