Second suspect in deadly rock-throwing case pleads guilty

Second suspect in deadly rock-throwing case pleads guilty

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Categories: Local News, Fox 31 KDVR
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DENVER (KDVR) — On Wednesday, Nicholas Karol-Chik, 19, appeared in court and pleaded guilty for his role in a deadly rock-throwing crime spree that killed a 20-year-old woman.

Karol-Chik pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, criminal attempt to commit murder in the first degree and crime of violence, which can be a sentence enhancer.

For all charges, the judge said Karol-Chik would receive the ultimate sentence possible, which is between 35-72 years, opposed to a life sentence.

Because of his plea, Karol-Chik's original count of first-degree murder was dismissed. His sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 10.

FOX31's Courtney Fromm was in the courtroom and said Alexa Bartell's family agreed to the plea. She was killed when a rock hit her car in 2023.

On May 10, Karol-Chik's accomplice, Zachary Kwak, pleaded guilty to his role in the case.

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. As part of the plea deal, he will serve no less than 20 years but no more than 32 years.

Karol-Chik and Kwak were two of three high school seniors arrested in connection to the case in 2023. At the time of their arrests, the students were taken into custody on charges of first-degree murder – extreme indifference.

Kwak's previous murder charge was also dismissed when he took the plea deal.

20-year-old killed while driving in Jefferson County

The charges stem from a string of crimes that took place in April 2023. Bartell was killed while driving northbound near the 10600 block of Indiana Street when she was struck by a large rock that was thrown at her car.

Investigators said the rock hit Bartell, and she was killed.

Bartell had been on the phone with a friend at the time. That friend tracked Bartell’s phone and found the 20-year-old dead in her car, which was off the road in a field.

This was not the first instance of rocks being thrown at cars that night. A total of five incidents were reported. The other drivers had objects thrown at their vehicles but have recovered from minor injuries.

The final suspect, Joseph Koenig, is scheduled to appear for a jury trial in the case on July 19 but is next scheduled to appear in court on July 3 for a motions hearing. 

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