Moments after learning her son’s killer would be in prison for most of his life, a Pacific Beach woman found herself sharing her grief over the tragic crime with the defendant’s mother.
Connie Berki’s 18-year-old son Garrett was killed on May 11, 2011 when he drove to Paradise Hills to buy a laptop advertised on Craigslist.
Instead, Garrett had walked right into a trap.
Rashon Abernathy, Seandell Jones and Shaquille Jordan lured Berki there with the promise of a laptop, stole $600 from the college student and then drove off. After Berki drove after the teens’ car to try and get a license plate, Abernathy fired a gun at Berki, killing him.
On Friday, Abernathy was the first defendant to learn his fate. He will spend 50 years to life behind bars. Jones and Jordan were each sentenced to 25 years to life.
One of the defendants' mothers apologized to Berki when the two women met face-to-face in the courthouse restroom.
"She loses too. She lost her child too. And I told her that I was so sorry for her because she lost him too," Berki said. "[She's] not going to have grandchildren, same as me; not going to have a daughter-in-law, same as me."
The teenagers were convicted of first degree murder, robbery and shooting at an occupied vehicle. Abernathy actually fired the gun that killed Berki but all three teens were convicted of murder.
Berki said her family has fallen apart since Garrett's death.
"I’m not the same. Every day I get up, I don’t have the same emotions, the same feelings. I am a different person than I was before I lost my son," she explained.
"You just wake up and you have a piece of your body missing and you know you’re not going to grow that back."
Berki said she has heard other parents can forgive their child's killers. She said that's not possible for her.
"The individuals have to live with that but I personally cannot forgive them," she said. "They chose what they did."
Berki's girlfriend Ali Faudoa was in the car and witnessed the shooting.
“I can’t say that 83 or 100 [years] to life wouldn’t be nice. Fifty… that’s their entire life and I’m okay with that,” Faudoa said.
Berki was a La Jolla High School graduate and a Mesa College student who was an avid surfer.
Check back for updates on this developing story.