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Preliminary hearing for Jeffco rock-throwing suspects pushed back to later this fall

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Posted at 3:15 PM, Sep 08, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-11 10:50:11-04

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. – A preliminary hearing for the three suspects accused in a rock-throwing spree earlier this year that killed a young woman in Jefferson County was cut short Friday and rescheduled for later in the fall after the defense for one of the suspects raised concerns about needing more time to process newly received evidence in the case.

The new preliminary hearing date was set for Oct. 18 at 8 a.m.

The lawyer for Joseph Koenig argued the defense team had not had enough time to evaluate evidence, specifically OnStar and cell phone records provided by the prosecution last Friday.

Koenig’s team added that they had retained an expert to evaluate the data but needed more time to review because of its complexity and that it was in a format that they said could not be viewed without specialized software.

The additional data is tied to recently added charges against two of the suspects in an alleged throwing incident on April 1, two weeks before Alexa Bartell, 21, was killed.

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The prosecution said Friday’s preliminary hearing should be allowed to continue, arguing they could establish probable cause on the original charges tied to the April 19 attack against Bartell.

The prosecution also noted there were a number of Bartell’s family that traveled to see Friday’s hearing.

While expressing a need that "the case needs to keep moving," Judge Chris Zenisek of the First Judicial District Court pushed back against the prosecution’s assertion that the new data was not necessarily pertinent to establishing probable cause, saying “a bigger case, an important case will often take more time, more time than other cases and we have to do it right."

Friday’s rescheduled preliminary hearing comes after two defendants, Koenig and Karol-Chik, were charged on Aug. 30 with attempted first-degree murder and attempted second-degree assault in connection to a separate alleged attack.

Those new charges were filed based upon an incident on April 1, 2023, in which someone threw a statue head at a moving vehicle in Arvada, according to the district attorney’s office. Zachary Kwak, the third-defendant in Bartell's death, was not involved in the April 1 incident, the DA’s office said.

Rock-throwing suspects went back to scene of JeffCo fatal crash to keep photo as a memento

The deadly incident happened on April 19 around 10:45 p.m. after a rock crashed into Bartell’s vehicle windshield while she was driving on Indiana Street in Jefferson County.

The sheriff’s office said at the time Bartell was on the phone with a friend when she “abruptly stopped talking,” according to an affidavit.

That friend began searching for Bartell, eventually locating her with a serious head injury.

Large rock thrown at car kills young woman

Sheriff’s investigators later discovered a landscaping rock with a red stain off the side of Indiana Street. The rock had a red stain on it, which later tested presumptively positive for blood, the affidavit said.

The attack on Bartell was the last in an alleged string of rock-throwing incidents between 10 and 10:35 p.m. that evening, in which seven vehicles were struck by rocks in northwestern Jefferson County, the sheriff’s office said.


The below timeline and map shows the reported incidents from the evening Alexa Bartell was killed:

  • 10:04 p.m. on April 19 – Westminster - 100th Ave. and Simms St. – Rock through windshield, driver not injured
  • 10:26 p.m. on April 19 - Arvada - Highway 93 at Highway 72 – Rock through windshield, minor injuries to driver
  • Between 10:26 p.m. and 10:45 p.m. on April 19:
    • Jefferson County - Highway 93 near Highway 128 - No injuries. Rock thrown through minivan's driver's side windows.
    • Jefferson County - Highway 93 near Highway 128 - No injuries. Rock cracked the windshield of a Subaru Forester
    • Boulder County - McCaslin Blvd. and S. Indiana St. (entrance to Rock Creek neighborhood) - Rock through a windshield, minor injuries to driver
    • Boulder County – McCaslin Blvd. and S. Indiana St. (entrance to Rock Creek neighborhood) - Rock vs. Toyota 4Runner with body damage to vehicle, driver not injured
    • 10:45 p.m. – Jefferson County – 10600 block of Indiana Street – Rock thrown through the windshield of a yellow Chevy Spark, killing driver Bartell

Prosecutors in June alleged the three suspects posed a flight risk since they live in affluent neighborhoods and their families could post a $1 million bond. While the defense argued for lower bonds for the three, the judge set bond at $2 million cash-only after hearing emotional pleas from Bartell’s family and partner.
The three suspects, all 18-year-old high school seniors at the time, were arrested a week after Bartell's death on charges of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, second-degree assault and attempted second-degree assault in connection with the series of rock-throwing crimes.

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