SEATTLE (CBS SEATTLE) — A 17-year-old high school student has pled not guilty to charges he murdered a Seattle man for his cellphone that authorities say he later expressed “disappointment that it was not a nicer model.”
King County prosecutors allege that Byron White, a Ballard High School student, shot and killed Greenwood resident David Peterson, 54, around 8:30 p.m. in the 8500 block of First Avenue Northwest. According to Seattle PI, King County prosecutors allege that White tried to steal Peterson’s phone in the parking lot of the Mud Bay pet store but Peterson fought the 17-year-old off and White walked away.
But authorities report that White doubled back and shot Peterson because he “had seen his face,” and had dialed 911 to report that he’d been punched in the head during the attempted robbery.
Peterson was speaking with the 911 operator about the attempted robbery when he reported that the man had turned around and was approaching him again. The operator reportedly heard Peterson tell the assailant that he wasn’t going to give up his phone – at which point the line disconnected.
“He said that the man had seen his face, and he had to shoot him,” a Seattle detective told Seattle PI what White allegedly told acquaintances after the shooting. “He showed his companions the phone he had finally taken from the man and expressed his disappointment that it was not a nicer model.”
Police arrived minutes later to find Peterson’s body in the parking lot with a bullet wound to the chest and a 9mm shell casing nearby.
White allegedly admitted to killing Peterson while talking with the acquaintances at the home five blocks from the scene of the shooting.
“David Peterson went out for a walk around the neighborhood after dinner and never returned,” King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said in a press release. “He was a random victim from a chance encounter with a dangerous young man. That the evidence shows he was murdered for his cellphone by a teenager with a gun makes this all the more tragic and senseless.”
White was arrested on March 1 at Sea-Tac while attempting to catch a flight to Atlanta, according to court documents and prosecutors who say White’s mom led investigators to him before he could board the plane.
Peterson’s wife, Kimberly, attended Monday’s court hearing and told KOMO-TV that a lifetime in prison would not be enough of a sentence for the accused teenager.
“I know a lot of his schoolmates mention that he was a nice guy, but Ted Bundy was a nice guy, too, to his roommates, to his buddies, too, so someone like that personality is not going to change,” she told KOMO.
White pleaded not guilty on Monday to charges of first-degree murder, unlawful possession of a firearm and attempted robbery. He is being charged as an adult due to the violent nature of the crime and is facing 27 to 35 years in prison.