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A Colorado teenager, Zachary Kwak, has pleaded guilty for his role in a deadly rock-throwing spree that took place in Denver last year. Kwak, along with his friends Joseph Koenig and Nicholas “Mitch” Karol-Chik, threw landscaping rocks at several cars in April 2023, resulting in the death of a 20-year-old woman named Alexa Bartell. Kwak pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree assault, one count of second-degree assault, and an added count of criminal attempt to commit assault. He made a plea deal and will serve between 20 and 32 years in prison. The sentencing is scheduled for September 3.

The trio of teenagers threw rocks at six different cars, injuring multiple drivers and ultimately killing Bartell, who was driving while on the phone with a friend. Bartell’s friend, who was on the phone with her at the time, reported that she abruptly stopped talking. Investigators stated that the suspects were driving at about 80 mph when they struck Bartell’s windshield. After the incident, Kwak took a photo of Bartell’s damaged vehicle as a “memento.” Karol-Chik mentioned that the group became “blood brothers” after realizing Bartell was dead. Kwak reportedly became excited when he successfully hit a vehicle with a rock.

Bartell’s friend used a phone-finder app to track Bartell’s location and found her car in a field off Indiana Street in Jefferson County. The suspects were identified through cellphone data, which tied a common phone number to different crime scenes. According to Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputies, Kwak and Koenig were the only suspects accused of throwing the fatal rock that killed Bartell. Kwak denied throwing the rock during the investigation, insisting that he was not responsible. Bartell’s family was in the courtroom during Kwak’s guilty plea, visibly emotional during the proceedings.

The trio had reportedly been throwing rocks at moving vehicles for about two months before the incident that resulted in Bartell’s death. Koenig and Karol-Chik’s cases are still ongoing, and all three were initially charged with murder in the first-degree with extreme indifference. Kwak’s guilty plea and forthcoming sentence highlight the tragic consequences of their actions and the impact it had on Bartell’s family and friends. The incident serves as a reminder of the serious consequences of reckless and dangerous behavior, especially when it results in the loss of innocent lives.

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