Three teenage boys robbed 16-year-old Jersey Miller for less than $50 and then fatally shot him near his home, according to court testimony Friday that provided some of the first details of Tuesday’s shooting in Anchorage’s Abbott Loop neighborhood.
One of the three, 17-year-old Sakariya Musa, was arraigned Friday as an adult on second-degree murder charges filed in Anchorage Superior Court.
Miller’s death was a “completely senseless murder of a child in broad daylight on a residential street,” Assistant District Attorney Matthew Kaste said during Friday’s hearing.
Miller was a junior at Service High School, his mother Jennifer Miller said Friday. He was soft spoken, had a big heart, liked basketball and loved to make his friends and family laugh, she said.
Charges against the two other teens accused in the shooting, both 15, are being handled by the Division of Juvenile Justice. Such proceedings are confidential.
Musa’s age, combined with the severity of the charges, resulted in his being automatically waived into the adult criminal system, District Court Judge Michael Franciosi said Friday. Because the other defendants are under 16, their charges did not automatically transfer.
Miller left his house Tuesday afternoon to meet the three boys to buy “puff bars” on his street, according to a police report summary filed with the charges. Puff bars are nicotine vape cartridges that sometimes also contain THC, the main active agent in cannabis, the document says.
The charges and prosecutors did not specifically say that the puff bars Miller wanted to buy contained THC.
Musa used Snapchat to organize such sales in Anchorage, the charges said. Miller didn’t have a previous relationship with the boys aside from the plan to purchase puff bars on Tuesday, they said.
The boys told investigators they planned to rob Miller during the transaction, according to the document. They told investigators they had purchased a Glock 10 mm handgun a week earlier from a man in a grocery store parking lot.
The day Miller was shot, one of the boys took his mother’s car and picked up the others, who were both carrying weapons, according to the charges.
Musa, who was in the back seat, met with Miller from the window, the charges said. One of the boys told investigators Miller paid them and they sped down the dead-end street and turned around.
Musa told investigators he then shot Miller, the charges said, but said he meant to fire into the air “to scare him.” Musa told authorities he thought Miller was going to shoot him, although he admitted he never saw the boy with a gun.
A neighbor called 911 around 2:45 p.m. and police said Miller was dead when first responders arrived.
Home surveillance cameras captured the shooting.
Police used traffic camera footage to see where the car drove after leaving the scene, the charges said. Officers then questioned the 15-year-old boy who lived at the residence where the car was parked and all three boys were remanded to McLaughlin Youth Center.
Miller’s death was an act of senseless violence that has left the people who loved him feeling scared, shocked and heartbroken, his mother said.
Not only did she lose her son, but Jennifer Miller said she feels for the parents of the young defendants, whose lives have also been forever altered.
“Nobody wins,” she said between tears after Friday’s hearing. “They lost their child, I lost mine. But theirs gets to come home one day, maybe. I don’t have that chance. I’ll never see my baby again.”
On Cantonment Court, flowers and candles sat on the icy pavement where Miller died. A neighbor continuously checked the memorial throughout the day Thursday to relight flames extinguished by the icy winds.
Musa was charged with two counts of second-degree murder and one charge of first-degree robbery. He appeared telephonically from the youth center for his arraignment hearing at the Anchorage Correctional Complex Friday afternoon.
Franciosi set his bail at $250,000 cash with additional conditions that must be met before he could be released.