A San Diego teenager sobbed in court as he was sentenced for his role in the death of a homeless woman who was allegedly shot dead by his friend with a pellet gun.
Ryan Hopkins, 19, pleaded guilty in August to driving suspected shooter William Innes, 18, to where Annette Pershal, 68, was sleeping on the street in the early hours of May 8.
Pershal was shot in the head, leg and torso, with metal bullets loaded into the air gun also rupturing her aorta. Before the killing, Inness had allegedly texted multiple friends to say he was going on a ‘hobo hunt.’
As he received a three-year suspended sentence on Saturday, Hopkins tearfully told the homeless woman’s family: ‘I’m sorry to all you guys and the pain you have to go through… I’m sorry we’re here today.’
Ryan Hopkins, 19, sobbed as he received a three-year suspended sentence for his role in the fatal shooting death of homeless woman Annette Pershal, 68, in May
Pershal, affectionately known as ‘Granny Annie’ in the California neighborhood she lived in for seven years, died after being shot by metal bullets loaded into a pellet gun
Alleged shooter William Innes (pictured after his arrest) is facing charges of first-degree murder, with prosecutors claiming he told friends before Pershal’s shooting that he was going on a ‘hobo hunt’
Innes is set to stand trial for Pershal’s murder this month, with pre-trial proceedings revealing the chilling text message he allegedly sent to friends, including Hopkins, shortly before, reading: ‘I’m going hobo hunting with a pellet gun.’
While Innes faces a first-degree murder charge, Hodges was charged with aiding and abetting assault with a deadly weapon, as his attorneys argued he did not know what Innes was planning when he drove the alleged shooter.
His attorney Vikas Bajaj argued that Hopkins was trying to connect to the car’s Bluetooth at the time, before he heard Innes say ‘watch this’.
The prosecution countered that Hopkins purposefully drove Innes to the spot besides Innes, and appeared to wait to see her pained reaction to being struck.
‘He drove himself and his codefendant across the street, stopped right before Ms. Pershal who was shot, and they watched 15 to 20 seconds to see if they hit their target,’ the prosecutor said.
As his client sobbed beside him, Bajaj also took the opportunity to condemn the senseless shooting.
‘Shooting at someone who is sleeping on the ground in a helpless, vulnerable state? That’s disgusting,’ he said.
Pershal was struck by the pellet gun in the head, leg and torso, with one bullet also rupturing her aorta, and she died in May after spending three says in a coma
Hopkins (pictured after his arrest) and Innes were detained in August following further investigations into the incident after a coroner determined that Pershal’s death was a homicide
Cops discovered Pershal unconscious in the street where she lived for around seven years, and was reportedly known to be a friendly and harmless person with the nickname ‘Granny Annie.’
She was rushed to hospital, where ‘doctors noticed that it appeared the woman had ben shot multiple times with a pellet gun’ containing metal bullets, court documents said.
After spending several days in a coma, it was determined that ‘the woman’s injuries were non-survivable’, and she succumbed to her injuries.
Coroners officially ruled the death a homicide on July 31, and further investigations led them to Hopkins and Innes, who were detained in August.
Both teenagers initially pleaded not guilty when they were arrested and both were charged with homicide, however Hopkins pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of aiding and abetting assault with a deadly weapon.
Alongside his first-degree murder charge, Innes is also facing charges of possession of an assault weapon illegal in California, failure to comply with state legislation designed to track firearms by applying for serial numbers.
Tributes poured in for Pershal after her shooting death, with her daughter Brandy Nazworth telling The Guardian she was a fond sight for locals in the her Serra Mesa neighborhood.
‘She was a grandmother figure, and she wore her ‘Granny Annie’ title very strongly,’ she said.
‘She wouldn’t bother anybody. She loved the neighborhood and I know she loved the community,’ Nazworth added to ABC 10.