Seattle teen murders man for cellphone, then complains it’s too cheap

Byron WhiteThere’s an old joke — um… two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of ’em says, “Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.” The other one says, “Yeah, I know; and such small portions.” ― Woody Allen, “Annie Hall: Screenplay”

A variation on this bit of observational humor might neatly sum up a Seattle teenager’s take on life. After killing a Seattle man whose cellphone he wanted, 17-year-old Byron White grumbled to friends that he was disappointed the victim hadn’t owned a nicer model.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer notes that White is alleged to have shot and killed David Peterson on Feb. 23 in Seattle’s Greenwood neighborhood. The teen was arrested at Sea-Tac Airport, where he was attempting to board a flight to Atlanta. He has been charged with first-degree murder.

[News video may be viewed here]

According to King County prosecutors, citing 911 calls from the victim, Peterson, 54, fought off the teen’s attempt to seize his cellphone. White is alleged to have walked away, then doubled back and shot Peterson in the chest, killing him.

“David Peterson went out for a walk around the neighborhood after dinner and never returned,” Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said in a statement. “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.

A Seattle detective filed a document with the court stating that White arrived at an acquaintance’s home five blocks from the shooting scene soon after the killing, where he admitted to having pulled the trigger. The detective wrote:

He said that the man had seen his face, and he had to shoot him. He showed his companions the phone he had finally taken from the man and expressed his disappointment that it was not a nicer model.

When apprehended by police, White admitted to killing Peterson. The gun has not yet been recovered.

Due to the nature of the crime and his age, White was automatically charged as an adult. He faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted as charged and remains in jail on $2 million bail.

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