Teens charged with murder in highway rock incident
Flint — After allegedly dropping a rock from a highway overpass that broke a man’s skull, clavicle, ribs and facial skeleton, a group of youths had dinner at McDonald’s.
Five days later, their meals are being served in jail.
The five teenagers were charged Monday with second-degree murder in the death of Ken White. White, 32, of Mount Morris was struck by the rock Wednesday while riding in a van on Interstate 75 near Flint.
The teens, ages 15-17, were charged as adults, authorities said. They were scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday morning in District Court in Genesee County.
“It’s not a prank. It’s second-degree murder,” said Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell during a news conference to announce the charges.
Four other vehicles also were damaged by rocks dropped from the overpass, said authorities. At least 20 rocks were tossed, including one that weighed 20 pounds.
The youths also had tossed a car tire and piston from another overpass, authorities allege.
Besides second-degree murder, each youth was charged with one count of conspiracy, six felony counts of malicious destruction of property and two misdemeanor counts of malicious destruction of property.
The murder charge is punishable by up to life in prison.
The teens all live in Clio and attend Clio High School. They are Kyle Anger, 17, Mark Sekelsky, 16, Mikadyn Payne, 16, Alexzander Miller, 15, and Trevor Gray, 15.
“I don’t believe that this was a deliberate attempt to take somebody’s life,” said Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton, explaining the charge of second-degree murder instead of first-degree. “It was a willful and wanton act that resulted in somebody’s death. These people should have known better. These people should have realized that their actions would cause great bodily harm or death.”
Pickell said it was “good old-fashioned police work that led to the suspects. Aerial surveillance and “talking to a lot of people, knocking on a lot of doors,” helped propel the investigation. He said Leyton then was able “to throw the book at them.”
“At the end of the day, nobody wins,” Pickell said. “The young boys are charged as criminals, a young boy lost his father, and all the families are left grieving.”
White, who had a 5-year-old son, was riding home from his construction job at 8:30 p.m. when a rock smashed through the windshield of the van, said police. The rock was 5-by-8 inches and weighed six pounds.
The driver told police he was talking with White when he suddenly spotted the rock heading toward the windshield. The projectile struck White in the chest and then head, knocking him unconscious.
During the news conference, Leyton showed a photo of the rock and blood-spattered van.
“You can just imagine what trauma was inflicted upon the individual,” he said.
An autopsy showed that the cause of death was blunt trauma to the head and chest.
What makes the death so scary is that everyone can relate to driving under a highway overpass, said Pickell. It could have been anyone who was struck by the rock.
Explaining the additional charges, Leyton said the teens were charged with conspiracy because they had earlier discussed gathering rocks and throwing them from an overpass, said Leyton. The rocks were gathered from a dead-end street near the overpass.
Anger, who is accused of dropping the rock that struck White, is being held in the Genesee County Jail. The other youths, because of their age, are being held in a regional detention center.
Clio Area Schools Superintendent Fletcher Spears said the district would issue a statement on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, contributions continue to pour in for the GoFundMe page launched to help White’s family with funeral expenses. By Monday night, more than 1,000 people had raised nearly $43,000 of the $50,000 goal.
Detroit News Staff Writer Mark Hicks contributed.