Anchorage police arrested a third suspect in connection to the murder of 15-year-old Precious Alex on Thursday, according to a press release sent out by APD spokesperson Jennifer Castro. Police arrested Karlie West, 21, and charged her with murder in the second degree and assault in the second degree. West allegedly drove the Jeep Cherokee involved in the incident in the early morning of April 1, when the murder occurred.
According to charging documents, West told investigators she agreed to drive Jamal Townsend and Lamar Burney to the Mountain View area, and that she knew Townsend had brought a handgun with him. She didn’t see the weapon, she told police, but heard them handling an item that sounded like a firearm. According to charging documents, West told police that she did not think the men were going to shoot anyone, but that they would only try to fight the other men or possibly scare them with the gun. She later drove the two men to the area near the victim’s residence and waited for about 10 minutes before they returned and told her to drive. The vehicle was later stopped by police.
Townsend was arraigned Thursday afternoon at the Anchorage Correctional Complex as the victim’s family members crowded the courtroom.
Townsend, 24, was flanked by two security guards who held onto his hands throughout the short arraignment. Townsend is charged with the murder of Alex, who died after being shot twice while lying in bed in the Anchorage neighborhood of Mountain View. Townsend’s Thursday arraignment was held a day after that of co-defendant Lamar Burney.
During the proceeding, Townsend occasionally glanced at family members of the victim nearest him and appeared to be communicating with them. At one point, he winked at the family, eliciting startled murmurs from a group near the door. Alex’s younger brother later said that it was directed at him.
The courtroom was again packed, as it was during Burney’s arraignment on Wednesday. Family members of the victim -- from Alex’s great-grandmother to teenagers -- attended. The door to the courtroom was left open, and as the proceedings got underway people continued to file into the overflowing courtroom. Burney’s parents, who were in attendance on Wednesday, were again seated in the courtroom.
Judge Douglas Kossler read the charges to Townsend and asked if he wanted an attorney. Townsend said he did and was appointed a public defender. The charge of murder alone has a minimum sentence of 20 years and a maximum sentence of 99 years.
The prosecution requested bail of $1.5 million -- $500,000 more than Burney’s -- citing Townsend’s criminal history and an outstanding warrant for his arrest due to a parole violation.
Dana Sweatt, the victim’s grandmother, then stood and requested no bail, as she did during Burney’s hearing. Kossler explained to Sweatt that ruling for no bail was not an option in the state of Alaska. He set the bail at the requested $1.5 million in cash, with a condition of a third-party custodian.
Standing near the front, Quintin Hargrove stood with his arms crossed, his eyes transfixed on Townsend throughout the hearing. “I wanted him to see my face. I wanted him to look at me, in the face, and he wouldn’t do it,” Hargrove said afterwards.
Hargrove, who is engaged to Alex’s mother, allegedly got into a fight with Townsend weeks earlier, which charging documents say may have led to the shooting. He believes Townsend was seeking revenge on him that night and was deliberate in choosing Alex’s bedroom window for the shooting.
Townsend wanted to “kill everything I had inside of me,” Hargrove said, and the worst thing in the world is burying one’s child.
Hargrove also thinks it was Burney who pulled the trigger that night. Hargrove said he witnessed Burney running from the house. “We seen the shadow,” he said. “We knew who it was.”
The victim’s mother, Demetra Alex, described Townsend as a “friend of a friend.” She said that Townsend knew the layout of the house. In addition, “You can see through her window. You can see that was her room,” she said. Still, Alex doesn’t believe he meant to kill her daughter that night. “I don’t think it was intended for my baby,” she said, flanked by family members outside the courtroom.
Alex said Townsend's courtroom demeanor was a sign of “cockiness,” showing his lack of sympathy for his alleged actions. “He’s just happy, it’s OK with him,” she said. “He took my angel from me,” she said, as she started to cry.
Demetra Alex is looking for answers, hoping the two men explain why they allegedly killed her daughter. “I don’t know if because it was April Fools it was supposed to be a joke,” and the actions were not intended to kill anybody, she said. She wants justice with “no hesitation.”