Nicholas Karol-Chik pleads guilty to murder while throwing stones

Alexa Bartell, 20 (provided by Jefferson County Sheriff's Department)

A second teenage suspect pleaded guilty Wednesday to murder for his role in a series of rock-throwing attacks in Jefferson County that targeted seven drivers and killed 20-year-old Alexa Bartell last year.

Nicholas Karol-Chik, 19, could be sentenced to more than 70 years in prison after pleading guilty in the First Judicial District Court to first-degree murder, criminal attempt to commit first-degree murder and a violent crime conviction. a plea deal.

Karol-Chik's plea comes just days after one of his co-defendants, 19-year-old Zachary Kwak, pleaded guilty to assault in connection with the April 2023 attack. The third person in the car that evening, 19- year-old Joseph Koenig, will stand trial in July on charges of first-degree murder.

Kwak and Karol-Chik's plea deals “are conditioned upon their full cooperation in the prosecution of the co-defendants, which may include testifying” against Koenig, said Brionna Boatright, spokesperson for the First Judicial District Attorney's Office.

As part of Karol-Chik's plea deal Wednesday, prosecutors dismissed the original 15 charges, including multiple counts of first-degree murder and assault.

Prosecutors and the defense agreed that Karol-Chik will be sentenced to the Colorado Department of Corrections for a term between 35 and 48 years for the second-degree murder conviction. The general sentence for first-degree murder is 16 to 48 years.

He also faces an additional eight to 24 years in prison for attempted first-degree murder.

In total, the teen faces up to 72 years in prison when he is sentenced on September 10. He will not be sentenced to the Youthful Offender System — a medium-security prison in Pueblo that houses male and female offenders between the ages of 14 and 19 — First Judicial District Judge Christopher Zenisek said during Wednesday's hearing.

TDP L ROCK COURT AAO7080 35338871
Defendant Nicholas “Mitch” Karol-Chik listens to District Court Judge Christopher C. Zenisek during an arraignment in Jefferson County District Court on Wednesday, May 3, 2023. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post)

Bartell was killed on April 19, 2023, after a landscape rock crashed through her windshield as she drove north on Indiana Street in Jefferson County.

Three then 18-year-olds – Karol-Chik, Kwak and Joseph Koenig – were arrested and charged with throwing rocks at seven vehicles that evening, including the one that killed Bartell.

Karol-Chik, Kwak and Koenig threw rocks from Karol-Chik's moving Chevrolet Silverado and targeted drivers of oncoming vehicles, the defense said during Wednesday's hearing. All seven vehicles were damaged and three drivers, not including Bartell, were injured, prosecutors said.

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