Hiding her face behind court papers, the alleged getaway driver in the shooting death of a 15-year-old girl in Mountain View made her initial appearance in court Friday afternoon.
Karlie West, 21, faces second-degree murder and assault charges in the killing of Precious Alex. According to charging documents, West drove Jamal Townsend, 24, and Lamar Burney, who turned 29 on Friday, to Alex's apartment on North Flower Street, where one or both of the men allegedly shot through a window, killing Alex, about 3:15 a.m. Tuesday. A boy in the room with her was also injured.
Burney and Townsend are charged with first- and second-degree murder, attempted murder and assault. It remains unclear which of the men shot Alex or if she was their intended target.
The charges against the men say Townsend asked West to drive him to the apartment Tuesday because he was "agitated" about a fight there two weeks earlier with Alex's mother's fiance. West said she did not see Townsend with a gun but heard him and Burney "handling an item that sounded like a firearm," the charges say.
Shortly after the shooting, police pulled over a Jeep Cherokee driven by West and found Townsend and Burney inside, as well as a handgun that matched the caliber of the bullets suspected of killing Alex, the charges say.
While the information in the charges against West is nearly identical to the charges against the two men, there is one new paragraph that further describes her interview with detectives after the Jeep was impounded.
"West stated that she did not think that the men were going to shoot anybody despite having the gun, but she did admit that she thought Burney and Townsend were either going to start a fight with the men at the Mt. View residence or scare them with the gun," say the charges.
As they had Wednesday and Thursday for the Anchorage Jail Court appearances of Burney and Townsend, Alex's family filled the small courtroom's gallery Friday and spilled out into a hallway. Alex's mother, DeMetra, held a photo of her slain daughter.
West's family had hired a private attorney, and a judge kept West's bail at $1 million. West only showed her eyes, under long, red-pink dyed hair and just above the charging document in front of the rest of her face.
The victim's grandmother, Dana Sweatt, said outside the jail that she had seen remorse in West's eyes.
Still, Sweatt said, "She's responsible and accountable. She should get the same penalty as everyone else."
"I think as the getaway driver, you're culpable," Sweatt said. "I think as an individual, she's impressionable."
By CASEY GROVE