Five teens charged with first-degree murder in shooting death

Four of the defendants were charged as adults, and one was charged in the court’s juvenile division.

EVERETT — Five teens now are charged with first-degree murder for the Dec. 7 shootings of a mother and her son during a drug-related robbery in south Everett.

Four of the defendants, all 16 and 17, were charged as adults Wednesday in Snohomish County Superior Court. The fifth, a 15-year-old boy, was charged Tuesday in the court’s juvenile division, but prosecutors filed paperwork making clear they hope to move that case to adult court, too.

Under Washington law, defendants aged 16 and older typically are treated as adults, and at risk of adult sentences, when charged with murder, assault and certain other serious crimes.

Those facing adult charges now are: Bryan “B-Money” Rodriguez-Hernandez, Larry Dontese Dorrough, Gladyz Valencia-Anguiano and Mondrell Maurice Robertson.

All five of the defendants are accused of playing roles in the robbery that ended in the death of Julie Knechtel, 54. She was shot in the heart and lungs while coming to the aid of her son, 17. Intruders had shown up at her home before 5 a.m. and pushed their way into a shed where her son was sleeping, deputy prosecutor Chris Dickinson said in papers filed in juvenile court.

The 17-year-old, who was also shot in the back, told detectives the robbers were after his drug stash. He identified a 15-year-old boy from Lynnwood as one of the attackers, and said that boy had robbed him of drugs before, Dickinson wrote.

“Sheriff’s deputies were familiar with the respondent from past incidents and located him and arrested him,” the prosecutor wrote of the 15-year-old boy. “In an interview with detectives, the respondent admitted that he was one of the attackers in this incident.”

The 15-year-old allegedly went on to describe how hours before the violence he met up with the other defendants and they developed a plan to rob Knechtel’s son. One of the group kicked in the shed door and they all went inside, at least two of them carrying handguns.

Knechtel’s son said he was punched and pistol whipped. His mother reportedly came to his aid, swinging a chair. Knechtel was shot and died at the scene. Her son survived a gunshot that left a bullet near his spine.

He was cradling his fatally wounded mother when police arrived, deputy prosecutor Julie Mohr wrote in Superior Court papers.

After arresting the 15-year-old, detectives rounded up the other suspects in the days that followed. Most reportedly spoke with detectives and told substantially similar stories about what happened, according to court papers.

Dorrough, 16, was described as the person who shot Knechtel’s son, according to documents filed with the court as part of the police investigation. The charging papers list him as having a Seattle address. Prior to his arrest in this case, his whereabouts were unknown and he was listed as a missing or endangered person as of October, Mohr wrote.

Rodriguez-Hernandez, also 16 and from Everett, was convinced by family to surrender two days after the gunfire. He then escaped for several hours Sunday morning. He’d allegedly slipped out of handcuffs, clobbered a Snohomish County sheriff’s deputy, and ran. A police dog later led officers to his hiding place.

Rodriguez-Hernandez is said to have bragged about firing the shot that took Knechtel’s life. He’d earlier served time in juvenile prison for a 2016 robbery when he took marijuana from one of Knechtel’s sons and pointed a handgun at the other, court papers show.

He and Dorrough also are suspected of a drive-by shooting Dec. 7, a couple of hours before the fatal robbery. The apartment that was targeted reportedly was home to a gang rival, court papers say. It is less than a mile from the location where Knechtel was killed.

Valencia-Anguiano, 16, of Mountlake Terrace, is described in court papers as Rodriguez-Hernandez’s girlfriend. She allegedly has spoken about being present while plans were made for the robbery at Knechtel’s home and for the gunfire that came later, both at the apartment and during the fatal holdup, Mohr wrote.

Rodriguez-Hernandez and Valencia-Anguiano were photographed on surveillance video at a convenience store near Stanwood the night before the violence. With them was another young man, who later told police that he’d arranged to purchase a firearm from somebody he knew as “Lil Drell.”

That’s a nickname used by Robertston, 17, of Everett, according to court papers. He agreed to speak with detectives and told them he “didn’t want to snitch” but had been “put in a situation that was (expletive).” He claimed that he went with the others to the Knechtel home thinking they were just going to “settle a beef” and “(expletive) someone up” and that Rodriguez-Hernandez and Dorrough opened fire, Mohr wrote.

“I feel sorry for the lady,” Robertson allegedly said.

The suspects all were ordered held on $500,000 bail after their arrests. Prosecutors hope to keep them in custody.

The 15-year-old charged Tuesday “is no stranger to firearm related crime,” Dickinson wrote. Early last year, he wounded a Mill Creek teen while playing with a handgun, and in October he was arrested with drugs and a firearm nearby. And there are the allegations that he’d targeted Knechtel’s son for prior robberies in recent months, the prosecutor added.

The boy “represents an extreme danger to community safety,” and should continue to be held on high bail, Dickinson said in court papers.

Mohr made a similar pitch for the others. For example, she asked that bail be set at $1 million for Rodriguez-Hernandez, citing the smorgasbord of criminal activity that he stands accused of and the “extremely violent nature of the crime” that led to Wednesday’s murder charge.

Scott North: 425-339-3431; north@herald Twitter: @snorthnews.

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