SHERMAN OAKS—Three teenagers were sentenced to four years in a juvenile detention facility for their involvement in the stabbing of their friend and accomplice, 17-year-old Jacob Koffman, last February.
The suspects, D’Andre Charles, 17, Dejae Middleton, 17, and P..J. Wartak, 18, were initially charged with murder, but those charges were dismissed when they pleaded no contest to involuntary manslaughter and robbery on August 14.
The victim, Jacob Koffman, was fatally struck in the chest by a tactical folding knife when he and his three accomplices (Charles, Middleton and Wartak) attempted to rob drug dealer, Ennio Avolio, of cash, marijuana and narcotics.
According to a March 20 bail motion provided to the Canyon News by Greg Risling of the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, Middleton organized a $100 drug deal at the corner of Noble Avenue and Dickens Street with Avolio before relocating behind an apartment building of Dickens Street to meet a second party to help pay for the exchange.
Once Avolio and Middleton reached the rear of the building, three males identified as Charles, Wartak and Koffman proceeded to attack Avolio by kicking and punching him on the ground. It was there that Avolio noticed what looked like a real gun in Koffman’s holster and took out his own blade in a maneuver of self-defense. Koffman was then knifed to the chest once and his accomplice, Wartak, was struck in the leg.
Both stories of the defendants and Aviolo aligned besides Charles claim that Avolio was the one who first engaged into action after motion sensing lights unveiled the conspirator’s whereabouts.
The gun in Koffman’s waistband was revealed as a pellet gun, which appeared to many as authentic. The orange tip was “almost completely obliterated” leading first response teams to believe it was an actual weapon before further investigation was conducted by authorities.
Koffman was taken to the hospital, where he died of his injuries. Wartak was also taken to the hospital, but was released later in the evening to be booked at Van Nuys Community Police Station.
In the bail motion, the state of California argues that, “The Defendant [Charles] was not a mere observer or passive participant in this conspiracy, he was an integral and willing part of the criminal endeavor who admitted to using physical force by punching and kicking the victim during the attempted robbery. This conspiracy would not have succeeded without the force that this defendant applied, and their accomplice would not be dead if it were not for the willingness of this Defendant and his co-defendants to engage in this criminal conduct.”
After the court ruling surfaced on Tuesday, Koffman’s mother, Amy Teel told ABC7 “I know that two innocent boys are going to be serving time for my son’s death unjustly. They’re not guilty.” She continues to express her dismay by stating “I’m really disappointed in the outcome. P.J. and [D’Andre] should be home.”
Charles, Middleton and Wartak were all charged as adults. Aviolo, the drug dealer who claimed self-defense, was not charged.