The group of teens, aged 15-17, were arraigned in Genesee County district courtroom. They are accused of throwing a 6-pound rock off an overpass near Flint, Michigan, on October 18, fatally injuring 32-year-old Kenneth White.
White was riding home from work when he was struck in the face, head and chest by the rock that crashed through the windshield of the van in which he was a passenger.
“There’s no words to describe it,” Kenneth White Sr, White’s father, told CNN affiliate WNEM. “I’ve buried my mother, my father, and my oldest brother in the last four years and this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.”
White was engaged to be married and leaves behind a 5-year-old son. A GoFundMe account started by a family friend to help with funeral expenses has raised over $64,000 since Wednesday.
“He keeps asking about his daddy,” Amiee Cagle, White’s fiancee, told CNN affiliate WJRT. “And to tell him he’s not coming back has been hard. I try to explain. He’s so young, he’s only 5, he doesn’t understand.”
Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell confirmed to CNN that based on their investigation, officials believe Kyle Anger, 17, threw the rock that killed White, but all five boys are being charged with the same counts. The maximum penalty is life in prison.
Anger and Alexzander Miller, 15; Mark Sekelsky, 16; Mikadyn Payne, 16; and Trevor Gray, 15, were arraigned Tuesday and pleaded not guilty, according to Gray’s attorney, Erwin Meiers.
“To propel the size of boulder down from the Dodge Road overpass to a 70 mph vehicle that’s headed southbound, you ought to know — a reasonable person would know — that that is creating a high risk of great bodily harm, or in this case, death,” said David Leyton, the county prosecutor, at a news conference on Monday.
The five teenagers are being charged as adults, with one count of second-degree murder each. They are also being charged with conspiracy to commit murder, six felony counts each of malicious destruction of property and two other lesser charges.
“Although the charges are all the same, the kids are all different,” Mark Sekelsky’s lawyer, Frank Manley, told CNN affiliate WNEM. “The actions that kids may have become involved in are all different. So even though the charges were all read exactly the same, my anticipation is that there will be a distinction once the evidence comes forward.”
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for the teens on November 2.
“You’ve got five children charged with offenses carrying life in prison,” Meiers told CNN. “One minute they’re looking to going to prom or homecoming and the next minute they’re sitting in a detention center.”
CNN reached out to the lawyers of the other defendants, but they weren’t readily available for comment.