Two Davenport teens Friday admitted to their roles in the June 2016 death of 15-year-old Ayana Culbreath, who was killed when the two teens started shooting at each other during a large backyard gathering.
Trevor D. Owens, 19, and Kamario C. Hill, 15, both of whom faced first-degree murder charges, appeared in front of Judge Mary Howes in Scott County District Court and entered pleas of guilty to lesser charges.
Owens, who was charged as an adult, pleaded guilty to intimidation with a dangerous weapon, a Class C felony, involuntary manslaughter, and possession of a firearm or offensive weapon by a felon, both Class D felonies.
Scott County prosecutors at sentencing will recommend consecutive prison sentences, for a total of up to 20 years.
Because Owens was younger than 18 at the time of the shooting, the judge has the option under Iowa code to suspend the sentence in whole or in part, including any mandatory minimum sentence, or defer the sentence and place him on probation.
Hill, who was 14 at the time of the shooting, pleaded guilty as a youthful offender to attempted murder, a Class B felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison.
At sentencing, prosecutors will dismiss additional charges of intimidation with a dangerous weapon and possession of a firearm or offensive weapon by a felon.
As a youthful offender, Hill will be sentenced in juvenile court and will be under the court's supervision until he turns 18.
The judge at sentencing could also order him to be placed at the Iowa State Training School for Boys in Eldora.
Once he turns 18, the case then would be remanded to adult court, where a judge would determine whether to sentence him to adult prison or discharge him, among other sentencing options.
Hill will not face a mandatory minimum on the charge.
Owens and Hill will be sentenced Feb. 1. Each will be ordered to pay $150,000 in restitution under the terms of their plea agreements.
Police say Owens and Hill each fired a handgun toward a group of people during a large gathering in the backyard of 4233 Warren St. on June 26, 2016.
Culbreath, who was shot in the chest, was taken to Genesis Medical Center-East Rusholme Street, Davenport, where she was pronounced dead.
Witnesses at the gathering identified Hill and Owens as the shooters, according to police.
Owens, under questioning Friday from defense attorney Michael Motto Jr., admitted that he fired toward a group of rival gang members with the intent to scare them. He was previously adjudicated as a delinquent on a felony burglary charge and is prohibited from possessing or owning a firearm.
Owens also admitted that Culbreath was unintentionally struck as the two were firing at each other.
Hill, under questioning from defense attorney Robert Rosenstiel, admitted during his plea hearing that he fired at Owens and that he expected that it could or would result in his death, and that he had intent to cause death to Owens.
Scott County Attorney Mike Walton said Friday that he made the decision to move forward with the plea agreements, rather than take the case to trial, “based on evidence concerns.”
One of those concerns, he said, is that there is no evidence as to which shooter killed Culbreath.
However, the teens are both liable for Culbreath’s death when they engaged in mutual combat, he said.
“We thought this was the best outcome,” Walton said.