A 19-year-old Seattle man charged with killing a man in Greenwood during a failed cellphone robbery attempt pleaded guilty Monday to first-degree murder.
A 19-year-old Seattle man charged with killing a man in Greenwood during a failed attempt to steal a cellphone pleaded guilty Monday to first-degree murder.
Byron White was a 17-year-old Ballard High School senior when he killed David L. Peterson outside the Mud Bay pet store in the 8500 block of First Avenue Northwest on Feb. 23, 2014.
Seattle police said that White tried to take the 54-year-old man’s cellphone, but Peterson resisted and, after a struggle, Peterson managed to hold onto his cellphone, according to the court charging documents.
White was also walking away when Peterson called 911 to report the incident, the documents say. Overhearing the call, White turned and headed back to Peterson.
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“A few seconds later, Peterson can be heard on the 911 recording telling someone that he will not give up his phone and saying he was on the phone with police,” the charges say.
Prosecutors say that White pulled a 9-mm semi-automatic pistol from his waistband and shot Peterson once in the chest, the bullet striking Peterson’s heart and perforating his spinal column.
Peterson was pronounced dead at the scene.
After the shooting, White ran to a friend’s house a few blocks away and told three people about what had happened, charges say.
Charging documents claim White said Peterson had seen his face so “he had to shoot him.”
The documents say White was disappointed that the cellphone he had taken from Peterson “was not a nicer model.”
White, who played on the Ballard High football team, was arrested at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport as he prepared to board a flight to Atlanta. Police say the teen’s mother alerted them to his plans to flee.
Shortly after the killing, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said, in a statement, that Peterson “was a random victim from a chance encounter with a dangerous young man. That the evidence shows he was murdered for his cellphone by a teenager with a gun makes this all the more tragic and senseless.”
White, who was prosecuted as an adult, faces up to 28½ years in prison when he is sentenced Nov. 9, said Dan Donohoe, spokesman for the King County Prosecutor’s Office. Prosecutors will recommend that he serve the maximum sentence.