The Ballard High School senior accused of killing a Seattle man for his cellphone last month pleaded not guilty this morning to first-degree murder.
Byron White, 17, is charged as an adult in connection with the fatal shooting Feb. 23 of David L. Peterson in Seattle’s Greenwood neighborhood. Although he’s a juvenile, White was charged under a state law that allows 16- and 17-year-olds suspected of serious, violent offenses to be charged as adults automatically.
White also pleaded not guilty to second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm and second-degree attempted robbery. If convicted as charged, he faces 27 to 35 years in prison, which includes the firearm enhancement, according to King County prosecutors.
White is being held in lieu of $2 million bail.
Police said Peterson, 54, was out for an evening walk when he was approached by White in the parking lot of the Mud Bay pet store in the 8500 block of First Avenue Northwest. White attempted to steal Peterson’s cellphone, but Peterson resisted and after a struggle, prevailed, according to the charging documents.
White began to walk away without the phone when Peterson called 911 to report the incident, the documents say.
White turned back when he overheard the call; Peterson told the 911 operator that the man was “coming back,” according to the charging documents.
Prosecutors say that White pulled a 9-mm semi-automatic pistol from his waistband and shot Peterson once in the chest, the bullet striking Peterson’s heart and perforating his spinal column.
Charging documents claim White said Peterson had seen his face so “he had to shoot him.”
The documents say White was disappointed that the cellphone he had taken from Peterson “was not a nicer model.”
White, who played on the Ballard High football team, was arrested March 1 at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport as he prepared to board a flight to Atlanta.
Police say the teen’s mother alerted them to his plans to flee.