Cellphone pictures recovered from the body of a St. Paul teen shot in the city's North End last week helped investigators identify the boys who left him to die in the street, murder charges say.
Javeon Norbor-Mayon Kohene, 17, was charged Monday by juvenile petition in Ramsey County District Court with second-degree murder and aggravated robbery in connection with the Dec. 14 shooting death of 17-year-old Elijah Watson.
Prosecutors plan to certify Kohene as an adult in the case.
According to the criminal complaint:
Officers responded to the 500 block of W. Jessamine Avenue, on the outskirts of Marydale Park, just after 2 p.m. on a report of a shooting. Minutes earlier, a 911 caller had reported that a male victim approached her house covered in blood from an apparent gunshot wound to the face. He collapsed and died at the edge of the yard.
The homeowner, visibly shaken, told police she'd been helping her two grandchildren with their virtual learning upstairs when she heard banging at the door. The teen was wounded so badly she couldn't understand what he was saying. The children started crying, one telling officers that he "had already looked outside."
Two witnesses reported hearing a gunshot and seeing males run down the street and hop into a black car. Another called 911 to alert dispatch to a suspicious male wiping down a parked vehicle before getting a ride from a motorist who sped away. Police located an abandoned Pontiac G6, which had been reported stolen, with blood on the door and window.
Investigators discovered a cellphone on Watson containing pictures from an hour before the shooting. One showed him inside a stolen vehicle alongside three other boys, including Kohene, who was wearing a puffy red Tommy Hilfiger jacket with fur around the hood.
Surveillance footage taken 10 minutes prior to the shooting captured the boys entering Maryland Supermarket and returning to the Pontiac G6.
The next day, a teenager wearing the same distinctive red jacket approached a 34-year-old woman on Colorado Street asking for help jumping his car — the same black Acura that fled the homicide scene.
When the woman lifted the hood to her vehicle, Kohene pressed a gun to her back and said "Don't move," according to the charges. He made off with her purse and GMC Acadia.
Detectives tracked the vehicle to Kohene's house in South St. Paul, where they found the puffy red jacket and a .40-caliber handgun he was seen waving around on Facebook two hours after Watson's death. Forensic tests confirmed the firearm as the murder weapon, according to the criminal complaint.
A 15-year-old who was in the car at the time of the shooting contacted Watson's family from Florida to explain what happened Dec. 14. The younger boy recounted how Watson was driving and handed Kohene the gun hold in the back seat. Kohene declared, "The gun is mine now," and refused to return it. When Watson turned around to ask for it back, Kohene shot him in the face, charges say.
"Kohene laughed about it and showed no remorse for the victim," according to the petition.
A 16-year-old passenger confirmed that account to police, saying the teens argued over the gun before Kohene fired. Watson panicked and got out of the car before the 16-year-old hopped in the driver's seat and sped away at the other boys' urging. They stopped on Sherburne Avenue to ditch the Pontiac G6. The 16-year-old attempted to wipe off the blood while the other two ran steal a nearby black Acura, used as the getaway car.
After his arrest, Kohene initially denied being involved. When confronted with physical evidence, he insisted that he'd been playing with the gun in his lap when "it went off." Kohene maintained that he and Watson never argued and the shooting was unintentional, but admitted to being inside five different stolen vehicles over a 48-hour period. However, he denied stealing them.
There is no attorney listed for him in court records.
Liz Sawyer • 612-673-4648