SAN JOSE -- He's not even old enough for a learner's permit. But in the eyes of the law, his alleged crimes have made him a full-grown man with all of the consequences that bears.
Adonis Muldrow, just 15 years and five months old, will be tried as an adult on charges he was one of two people responsible for a Nov. 16 crime spree that killed a Campbell man and ambushed and wounded a San Jose police officer, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office announced Tuesday.
Muldrow, a San Jose resident currently being held in Juvenile Hall, is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday afternoon on charges of murder with special circumstances, attempted murder of a peace officer, four counts of second-degree robbery, assault with a firearm on an officer and receiving a stolen vehicle. His alleged partner, 26-year-old Jonathan Wilbanks, of San Jose, was arraigned last week but did not enter a plea to the same litany of offenses.
Wilbanks, whose criminal history in Santa Clara County is made up of minor weapons and drug offenses, is being held without bail in County Jail. His charges make him eligible for the death penalty, though prosecutors have made no decision on that option. Even though Muldrow is being charged as an adult, a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision abolished the death penalty for crimes committed as a minor.
Charging juveniles as adults is not unheard of in Santa Clara County. Randy Thompson and Jae Williams were 16 and 15 respectively when they were arrested for the November 2009 killing of Santa Teresa High School classmate Michael Russell. They have yet to go to trial. James Ortega was just 12 days past his 14th birthday when he gunned down two 17-year-olds in a San Jose Jack in the Box restaurant in 2004. He was sentenced to life in prison in 2007.
Police said Wilbanks and Muldrow know each other but did not detail the extent of their association.
Prosecutors said they would not comment on Muldrow's charges until after the arraignment. But a statement of facts they released Tuesday provides new insight into a rampage that began with a pizza parlor robbery and ended with the teen's capture following a week on the loose.
According to authorities, the crime spree began the evening of Nov. 16 when Wilbanks and Muldrow, clad in black ski masks and dark clothing and sporting pistols, entered a Little Caesar's Pizza restaurant on Story Road in East San Jose and robbed the staff.
The duo made their way west across the city in a stolen blue 1990 Toyota Camry, holding up a Shell gas station on East Capitol Expressway, a Jack in the Box on Curtner Avenue, and the Foot City Spa on Bird Avenue. At the spa, authorities said, the 15-year-old took point and robbed an employee while Wilbanks waited in the car.
They were looking to ditch that car and get another when they came upon a 7-Eleven on South Kiely Avenue. Rory Park-Pettiford, a 22-year-old Campbell native, had just come out of the minimart with a friend when they saw the two masked men heading toward them. Thinking they were going to knock off the store, they hurried into Park-Pettiford's new BMW so they could get out of harm's way.
What they didn't know, police and the victim's relatives said, is that Wilbanks and Muldrow were eyeing their ride, and tried to force their way in as Park-Pettiford tried frantically to start the car. Then with Muldrow standing by and pointing a black semi-automatic handgun at the vehicle, Wilbanks fired two shots into the driver's side from his .44 Remington Magnum revolver, killing the Westmont High School alum.
They got back in the Camry and took off, and about 10 minutes later a San Jose officer on patrol spotted and followed them to Tully and Lanai Avenue, trailing from a distance as he awaited backup. At a red light, prosecutors said, both Wilbanks and Muldrow got out and advanced on the officer while unloading their weapons and "raining down, round after round" on him, hitting him on his duty belt, handgun and pepper spray canister, but miraculously inflicting no serious wounds.
A backup officer arrived and returned fire, hitting Wilbanks in the leg and shoulder before a rolling gunbattle ensued as the injured officer and his partner gave chase. Wilbanks kept firing at the officers during his haste to escape, police said.
Muldrow jumped out of the car and disappeared, and eventually Wilbanks was cornered and arrested near Reid-Hillview Airport. A week later, police used clues gathered from video surveillance and witness statements to track the teen to an apartment in Concord, where he was arrested.
Contact Robert Salonga at 408-920-5002. Follow him at Twitter.com/robertsalonga.