BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Upon leaving a bar early March 17, several young men drove to a grocery store parking lot in southwest Bakersfield.
A race at breakneck speed followed, three vehicles hurtling along Panama Lane at more than 100 mph, police said. They only traveled about 1-and-a-quarter miles, but a lot happened in the time it took to cover that distance.
One man died. Two others could possibly spend the rest of their lives behind bars.
The dead man is Antwon Washington, 29. Police say he was racing Javontae Murphy and Brian Dickerson, both charged with second-degree murder, among other offenses.
A fourth man, Devin Rufus, is charged as an accessory.
They’re due back in court next week.
While Rufus faces the least serious charge filed in connection with the crash, police in newly-released court documents noted an apparent disregard on his part for the death that occurred.
When Washington crashed and was thrown from his car onto the roadway, Murphy and Rufus briefly stopped. They looked at Washington bleeding in the street, then got back in a car and drove away.
“As Devin Rufus callously stated, (Washington) was not family or friend to him or Javontae Murphy, so they did not care to stay,” an investigator wrote in the documents.
Rufus told police, “We looked, I’m like, I don’t even know him, he’s, he’s just sittin’ there dead, I was just like, bro, I don’t want to see this, let’s just go.”
Instead of remaining at the scene, they drove to a previously planned destination to meet girls, according to the filings.
A night at the bar
Police say surveillance footage, social media accounts and cellphone location data helped piece together the events of the night of March 16 leading up to the following morning’s crash.
Murphy, 23, arrived at Brix Lounge on Calloway Drive at about 10:45 p.m., the documents say. He planned to drink heavily, according to his Snapchat account.
“I just want another drunkkk (sic) night,” he wrote that night, the filings say.
Rufus, 22, arrived with Murphy and they each had three to four drinks, a witness told police. Brix sales records show Murphy was drinking a mixed drink containing a shot of vodka and a shot of peach schnapps, filings say.
Although Murphy is not charged with a DUI-related offense, police surmised it wouldn’t take much for him to become intoxicated. Murphy weighs 135 pounds, and his blood-alcohol content would rise more than a heavier person.
A Snapchat video recorded at the bar appears to show Murphy with watery eyes, a sign of alcohol intoxication, and Rufus describes himself as very intoxicated, according to the filings. Since they were estimated to have consumed the same amount of alcohol, it’s likely Murphy was also intoxicated, police said.
Dickerson and Washington, as well as others whose names are redacted, also arrived at Brix, the documents say.
When the bar closed, surveillance footage captured Murphy driving from the establishment despite having been warned not to drink and drive upon his conviction on an an alcohol-related driving offense six weeks earlier, the documents say. Rufus was a passenger in the car.
Police said they confirmed Murphy drove the car by the “distinctive and colorful” windbreaker he wore in photos and videos taken at the bar. The windbreaker was later found in his apartment.
Murphy drove a 2014 Dodge Challenger coupe, Dickerson a Cadillac XT5 SUV and Washington a Maserati Quattroporte sedan, police said.
Surveillance video captured Murphy initiating the race, taking off at about 2:29 a.m. and quickly followed by Washington and Dickerson as they roared eastbound on Panama Lane, according to the documents.
Washington grabbed the lead as they approached Stine Road, the documents say.
All three vehicles became airborne as they crossed the intersection.
Video showed Washington lose control and nearly collide with an uninvolved vehicle before the Maserati overturned, sparks visible as it hit and flipped over the median.
The Challenger also nearly hit the same vehicle Washington narrowly avoided, according to the filings. It made a U-turn and returned to where Washington crashed, then left the area.
The Cadillac struck the median then careened left, coming to a stop facing east in the westbound lanes, near the north curb line, the filings say.
Police later determined Washington reached a top speed of 123 mph, Dickerson 107 mph and Murphy 104 mph, according to the documents.
Dickerson, contacted at the scene, denied speeding, police said. He was taken to Kern Medical for complaint of head and back pain.
On March 22, police interviewed Dickerson when he went to the Bakersfield Police Department’s secure vehicle storage area to pick up personal belongings in the Cadillac.
Dickerson denied knowing Washington, police said, and also claimed he didn’t know the occupants of the Challenger. He gave an estimated speed far below what police determined he’d been traveling.
“I had to be going probably 60, I’m not even going to lie to you,” Dickerson said according to the documents.
Confronted with data from the Cadillac showing he’d been traveling 107 mph, Dickerson said, “Damn, I didn’t think I was going that fast,” according to the documents. He continued to deny knowing Murphy and became agitated and uncooperative, police said. A detective seized his cellphone.
It took a while for investigators to identify Murphy. But surveillance video and phone records eventually led them to him.
On June 21, a detective called Murphy and told him he had some questions about the Panama Lane crash. Murphy said he didn’t know what he was talking about, the filings say. He declined to go to BPD headquarters and give a statement.
Police obtained a search warrant and went to Murphy’s house the following day. He wasn’t there, and police spent the next two weeks trying to locate him.
They caught up with him July 9 after obtaining a search warrant to place a tracking device on his vehicle, which had remained in the same location for several days. Police received GPS notification the vehicle was moving and stopped it in the 600 block of Allen Road.
As officers approached, Murphy smashed his cellphone “to destroy the evidence within it he knew I was seeking,” an investigator wrote.
Police photographed the inside of the vehicle. It appeared Murphy had been living in it, the filings say.
Murphy was taken to BPD headquarters, where he refused to speak with detectives unless his attorney was present. A detective then told him he would be charged with second-degree murder.
That elicited a response.
“Javontae Murphy lost his composure and began to cry,” the detective wrote.