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Second defendant pleads guilty in 2023 Colorado rock-throwing death

By Mike Heuer
Nicholas Karol-Chik pleaded guilty to reduced charges in the April 19, 2023, rock-throwing death of Alexa Bartell while driving near Denver. Photo by First Judicial District Attorney's Office/Jefferson County Sheriff's Office
Nicholas Karol-Chik pleaded guilty to reduced charges in the April 19, 2023, rock-throwing death of Alexa Bartell while driving near Denver. Photo by First Judicial District Attorney's Office/Jefferson County Sheriff's Office

May 15 (UPI) -- A second defendant accused of killing motorist Alexa Bartell by throwing a large rock through her windshield last year pleaded guilty Wednesday in Jefferson County (Colo.) Court.

Nicholas James Karol-Chik, 19, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and two other charges when he and two others tossed a large landscaping rock at the oncoming vehicle Bartell, 20, was driving near Denver on April 19, 2023.

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The landscaping stone smashed through Bartell's windshield and killed her.

"Karol-Chik knowingly engaged in conduct which created a grave risk of death, under circumstances evidencing an attitude of universal malice manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life," the First Judicial District Attorney's office said in a statement.

Karol-Chik faces between 35 and 72 years imprisonment and is scheduled for sentencing on Sept. 10.

His guilty plea comes a week after Zachary Kwak pleaded guilty to reduced charges of first- and second-degree assault and second-degree criminal attempt to commit assault.

Kwak faces between 20 and 32 years in prison following his guilty plea and is scheduled for sentencing on Sept. 3.

Prosecutors said Karol-Chik, Kwak and remaining defendant Joseph Koenig targeted at least seven oncoming vehicles with large rocks by throwing them from Karol-Chik's Chevy Silverado pickup on the night they killed Bartell.

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The rocks struck and damaged seven vehicles and injured three other drivers.

Karol-Chik, Koenig and Kwak each were 18 and high school seniors when they targeted vehicles while driving on roads in western Denver on April 19.

Police say Karol-Chik passed the rock to Koenig, who threw it at Bartell's vehicle.

The three teens were arrested a week later and charged with up to 15 offenses, including first-degree murder with extreme indifference.

Koenig has pleaded not guilty and has a trial scheduled to start on July 19.

Kwak and Karol-Chik agreed to testify against Koenig as part of their plea deals.

Prosecutors say Karol-Chik and Koenig also targeted vehicles in the same manner on Feb. 25, 2023, and April 1, 2023.

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