AURORA | A 17-year-old boy charged as an adult with murder told police he accidentally killed his girlfriend — the mother of his infant daughter — during a bungled robbery early this month.
Duantae Jerome Terrell told police he shot his girlfriend, 18-year-old Korin Lijah Williams, in the chest while the couple and another man, Abdullah Jhalil Ratcliff, 19, tried to rob a man Feb. 1 at the Weatherstone Apartments in Aurora.
In an arrest affidavit filed against Ratcliff, police said Terrell, who has been charged with murder and nine other felonies, told investigators he didn’t mean to shoot Williams. He said he accidentally shot her when the man they were trying to rob tried to run him over with an SUV. He and Ratcliff then fled the scene and were arrested after Ratcliff crashed his car several blocks away.
Williams, who graduated from Grandview High School last spring, died at the scene. Several of Williams’ family members did not respond to requests for comments this week. Her father declined to comment, saying law enforcement had advised the family against speaking to the media.
Cynthia Dortch, who had been friends with Williams since elementary school, said she has a hard time believing Williams would have been involved in a robbery.
“I never knew of her to be running the streets, trying to rob people,” she said.
According to state records, Williams had no prior criminal history.
Dortch said Williams was a caring person and devoted mom who wouldn’t have been in that situation if not for Terrell, who has long been a bad influence on her. She said the pair had a volatile relationship and she urged her friend to stay away from Terrell.
“I told her, ‘leave him alone, he is bad news,’” she said.
According to Ratcliff’s affidavit, both he and Terrell spoke to police after their arrests, but the pair gave different descriptions of what happened leading up to the shooting.
In the seconds after Ratcliff crashed, he told police a bizarre story about how a man named “Terrence” and another man held him captive throughout the shooting and subsequent chase.
But back at police headquarters, Ratcliff told police a different story.
He said he met with Terrell and Williams a day before the shooting and the trio ended up at the Comfort Inn near Quebec Street and Interstate 70 in Denver.
There, the pair told Ratcliff that Williams had a “trick” who wanted to buy marijuana. Ratcliff said he agreed to sell the man pot but believed Williams and Terrell wanted to rob the man.
At one point at the hotel, Ratcliff said Terrell told him, “we’re gonna get this ni**a,” referring to the man he wanted to sell marijuana to. He said he told the pair “not to do anything stupid.”
Ratciff said he and Terrell later drove to the Weatherstone and met with Williams and the man.
He said he and Williams were standing outside the man’s SUV when Terrell pulled out a gun and shot Williams.
Throughout, Ratcliff insisted he didn’t know Terrell had a gun and he didn’t plan on robbing anybody.
But Terrell told police that all three were in on the plan to rob the man.
He told police that the day before the shooting, his girlfriend was hanging out with a man who offered to sell her some electronics.
Williams didn’t have money for the items but the man said she could have them if she would just hang out with him for a while.
Sometime later, Williams met the man at East Sixth Avenue and Sable Boulevard, where Terrell and Ratcliff were waiting in Ratcliff’s car.
The pair saw Williams get into the man’s green Ford Expedition and drive to the Comfort Inn near Quebec Street and I-70. After Williams and the man went into a hotel room, Terrell said he got a call from Williams. He said his girlfriend told him they needed money for their daughter so he “should do what he had to do.”
Terrell said that under the ruse of selling the man marijuana, the trio lured him to the Weatherstone near East Colfax Avenue and Chambers Road, where he and Ratcliff waited in Ratcliff’s car.
When the man pulled up in his Expedition with Williams in the passenger seat, Ratcliff approached the car on the passenger side.
Terrell said he saw the man in the Ford backhand Williams in the face so he got out with the shotgun.
He said he walked to the front of the vehicle and when he went to raise the gun, the man threw the vehicle into gear. Terrell said he barely touched the trigger, but the gun went off, shooting his girlfriend in the chest.
As the SUV sped over the grass and back to the parking lot, Terrell said he ran to his girlfriend to help, but realized he couldn’t.
“Baby, baby, you shot me,” he said Williams told him as she lay on the ground.
Then Terrell and Ratcliff ran to Ratcliff’s car and sped away, leaving Williams at the scene.
Police later found Williams face down in the snowy parking lot and said she appeared to have been dragged a short distance. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
For Dortch, hearing Terrell left Williams to die in the snow is particularly galling.
“If it was an accident, why would you leave the women you supposedly love, the mother of your child?” she said.
The man in the SUV chased Ratcliff and Terrell until they crashed near East 22nd Avenue and Billings Street. During the chase, the man, a 35-year-old from New Jersey, called 911 and told them he was chasing two men who had shot at him.
After the crash, Terrell and Ratcliff ran to a nearby friend’s house where they were later arrested. A young girl at the home told police the men ran into the home and tried to hide a pistol in a pair of pants. She said while the men were in a bedroom, she heard a single gunshot, apparently from the gun the men were trying to hide.
Police later recovered a .40-caliber pistol from the home that appeared to be jammed.
Of the three, only Ratcliff has been arrested as an adult before, and that was for driving without a license last year.
Ratcliff has been charged with aggravated robbery but a spokeswoman for the Arapahoe County district attorney’s office said the case is still under investigation and more charges could be filed. Under Colorado law, defendants accused of committing a felony during which someone was killed can face a first-degree murder charge even if they weren’t the killer.