EVERETT — Five teens awaited charges of first-degree murder Monday for a drug robbery that killed a mother, 54, south of Everett. Each was held on $500,000 bail.
One of them, Bryan “B-Money” Rodriguez-Hernandez, 16, held one of the woman’s sons at gunpoint in a marijuana holdup last year, court records show.
Other defendants have named him as the boy who shot and killed Julie Knechtel in the Village Green mobile home park, according to probable cause statements filed Monday in the juvenile division of Snohomish County Superior Court.
Court papers say Knechtel rushed to her teenage son’s defense around 4:45 a.m. Dec. 7 when intruders ambushed him in a shed. The boy reportedly dealt drugs from the shed behind the family’s home.
Knechtel’s son had been beaten and pistol-whipped by a group of four young men, who were demanding his “stash,” witnesses told police.
In the scuffle, Knechtel was shot and killed. Someone shot her son, 17, in the back when he tried to help her, according to the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.
The boy survived. He reported he recognized one of the robbers, 15, as a boy who had targeted him in other armed home-invasions.
In one, Knechtel interrupted the robbery, but a pistol-whip to the head left the boy in need of medical care. The son fended off another robbery in the week before the shooting, he told police. Deputies arrested the 15-year-old suspect within hours of the homicide.
That suspect talked with detectives. He claimed Rodriguez-Hernandez came up with the robbery plan last week. He didn’t want to chicken out, according to his statement. He said they drove to Camano Island in a Mercedes — with Rodriguez-Hernandez’s girlfriend, 16, and another teen boy — to pick up Larry Dontese Dorrough, 16, who brought a .22-caliber revolver.
The 15-year-old knew Rodriguez-Hernandez carried a gun with him, too. They parked in a field across from the shed. The boy pulled his hoodie tight around his face. The others wore masks. The girlfriend waited in the car.
They kicked in the shed door. Two shots rang out. Neighbors called 911.
Deputies found the wounded son cradling his mother. A .22-caliber bullet was lodged near the boy’s spine. Blood smeared a chair Knechtel had used to fight the intruders.
Over the next few days, detectives tracked down four other suspects, all of whom are minors.
Dorrough is a reported gang member who was convicted recently of waving a knife at Edmonds-Woodway High School students. Deputies found him Friday at his girlfriend’s home in Lynnwood. He is accused of shooting Knechtel’s son.
Rodriguez-Hernandez has known the son for at least a year. He stole pot from the boy in June 2016. As Rodriguez-Hernandez and his friend fled, he bumped into the boy’s twin brother. Rodriguez-Hernandez aimed a .40-caliber pistol at him. The twin pushed away the gun. The friend grabbed it.
“Pop him one!” Rodriguez-Hernandez yelled. “Shoot him!”
No one was hurt.
He served months in juvenile detention after pleading guilty to that offense.
After the recent homicide, Rodriguez-Hernandez’s stepmother saw his face on the news, according to search warrants obtained Monday by The Daily Herald. She brought him and his girlfriend to Everett police. He was taken into custody.
Early Sunday morning after being checked over at the hospital, Rodriguez-Hernandez was being taken to the county courthouse, which houses the sheriff’s office. He slipped his right wrist out of his handcuffs.
Rodriguez-Hernandez allegedly punched a deputy in the head as he reached for his key card. The blow stunned the deputy just long enough for the teen to run away. Despite an intensive search, Rodriguez-Hernandez remained at large for hours.
Deputies staked out an apartment on 12th Avenue W., where the boy sometimes stayed. He showed up at 6 a.m. Police chased him. Two hours later, he was caught behind a house across the street.
He told detectives he knew about a drive-by shooting around 2 a.m. the same day as the fatal shooting. It happened at Hangar 128 apartments, a half-mile south of the murder scene. He reported that Dorrough fired the shots from a 9 mm handgun, court papers say. Casings from a 9 mm were found at the drive-by scene.
Rodriguez-Hernandez said the target was a gang rival, according to a police report. Initially, the sheriff’s office said the shootings weren’t linked.
Rodriguez-Hernandez alleged that a few hours later, Dorrough fired both of the shots at the shed Thursday morning, records show.
His girlfriend’s story didn’t match. She told detectives her boyfriend claimed to have fired the fatal bullet, according to the report. And she said both Dorrough and her boyfriend shot at the Hangar apartments. A judge on Monday found cause to hold Rodriguez-Hernandez in connection with the drive-by.
The 15-year-old suspect from the homicide case had a court hearing last week. The other defendants made first appearances in juvenile court Monday morning.
One of the boys told detectives he didn’t want to be a snitch, but he thought they were going to the shed to settle a beef.
“I feel sorry for the lady,” he said.
Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @snocaleb.