Zachary Kwak Pleads Guilty in Deadly Colorado Rock-Throwing Case

Zachary Kwak, 19, pleaded guilty to three felony charges in connection with a deadly rock-throwing incident that killed 20-year-old Alexa Bartell in Colorado. Kwak faces a sentence of 20 to 32 years in prison as part of a plea deal.

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Zachary Kwak Pleads Guilty in Deadly Colorado Rock-Throwing Case

Zachary Kwak Pleads Guilty in Deadly Colorado Rock-Throwing Case

Zachary Kwak, 19, pleaded guilty on Friday to three felony charges in connection with a deadly rock-throwing incident that claimed the life of 20-year-old Alexa Bartell in Jefferson County, Colorado, on April 19, 2023. As part of a plea deal, Kwak admitted guilt to first-degree assault, second-degree assault, and criminal attempt to commit second-degree assault.

Why this matters: This incident highlights the devastating consequences of reckless and violent behavior, particularly among young people, and raises concerns about the potential for similar incidents in the future. It also underscores the importance of holding individuals accountable for their actions and ensuring that justice is served for victims andtheir families.

The plea agreement resulted in the dismissal of Kwak's original charges, including first-degree murder with extreme indifference. In exchange for his cooperation, prosecutors and the defense agreed to a sentence ranging from 20 to 32 years in the Colorado Department of Corrections. Kwak's bond was revoked, and his sentencing is scheduled for September 3, following the resolution of the cases involving his co-defendants, Joseph Koenig and Nicholas "Mitch" Karol-Chik.

The rock-throwing spree on April 19, 2023, targeted seven drivers, including Bartell, who was killed when a large landscaping rock crashed through her windshield as she drove on Indiana Street near Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge. Bartell was on the phone with a friend when the incident occurred, and the friend tracked down her phone to find her dead inside her car. Six other drivers whose vehicles were hit that night survived the attacks.

Investigators used cellphone data to identify the suspects, with one phone number belonging to Koenig pinging at four of the crime scene locations. One witness reported seeing at least two people in another vehicle before a rock "come from the middle of that vehicle" and through his windshield, striking him in the shoulder. The rock was described as being tossed in an "overhand throwing motion."

According to court documents, Karol-Chik allegedly told police that all three teens threw rocks at cars and were "excited" when they hit them. Kwak allegedly said he took a photo of Bartell's car because he "thought Joseph or Mitch would want it as a memento." Karol-Chik is set to go to trial in early June, while Koenig's trial is scheduled for late July into early August.

As part of his plea, Kwak agreed that with regard to Bartell's death, he "acted knowingly, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, by engaging in conduct which created a grave risk of death." The tragic incident has left a profound impact on the community, as the legal proceedings continue to unfold for the three teenagers accused in thedeadly rock-throwing spree.