A 19-year-old Paradise Hills man who killed a teenager in a deadly Craigslist computer sale transaction in 2011 in Paradise Hills was sentenced May 31 to 50 years to life in state prison.
The getaway driver, who is also from Paradise Hills, and another passenger were sentenced to 25 years to life for their roles in the slaying of Garrett Berki, 18, of Mission Beach.
All were convicted of first-degree murder and robbery by a jury on Nov. 15, 2012.
The trio’s sentencing by San Diego Superior Court Judge Kerry Wells took about five hours in a packed courtroom filled with Berki’s parents and friends as well as the mothers and family members of the defendants.
Rashon Jay Abernathy, 19, said nothing before Wells imposed 25 years for murder plus 25 years consecutively for using a gun in a homicide. Prosecutor Kristian Trocha asked for 65 years.
The driver, Shaquille Jordan, 19, and passenger, Seandell Lee Jones, 19, whom Trocha said held a gun on Berki and his girlfriend in the May 11, 2011, robbery, both expressed condolences to Berki’s parents.
“His life was worth $600. $600,” emphasized Connie Berki, noting her son and his girlfriend were robbed of $600 after they answered a Craigslist advertisement for a computer for sale in Paradise Hills.
“Our lives are completely shattered and will never be the same,” said Connie Berki. “What they took from me — there’s no amount of money that could (replace) him.”
“Garrett was my first boyfriend, my first love,” said Alejandra Faudoa, now 20, and she told the judge she often blamed herself for the tragedy.
Faudoa said she wished she had urged Berki to slow down, to not pursue the robbers who held them up, or some other thing she could have possibly done. She was sitting next to Berki when he was shot in a cul-de-sac on Artemia Way after he drove after the robbers to try and get a license plate number.
“This was not your fault,” said the judge to Faudoa.
Each defendant was fined $10,000 and they were ordered to pay $5,800 in funeral costs to Berki’s parents and $600 to a Navy man who testified he was robbed one week earlier in the same scam after he answered a Craigslist ad for a computer for sale in Paradise Hills.
Each defendant was given credit for serving 751 days in jail since their arrests that same night. Jordan was driving a stolen car and they all fled in different directions after he crashed it two blocks away from the shooting site around 10:30 p.m.
They were all 17 years old at the time, but ordered to stand trial as adults. Wells turned down a lengthy motion for a new trial in which attorneys argued there were errors over jury instructions.
The trio were convicted as part of the felony murder rule, which makes a slaying first-degree-murder if a victim is robbed. “This case is exactly the type of case that the felony murder rule deters,” said Wells.
Abernathy will likely have to serve a full 50-year sentence, which means he likely won’t be eligible for parole until he turns 69 years old. His life expectancy was discussed, and the judge said it was possible Abernathy could still be living in his 80s.