A press release from the St Johns County Sheriff’s Office has informed local Historic City News reporters of the identification and arrest of two teens who have been sought after by detectives in connection with the January shooting that left Kahlil Cooke dead in a drug deal that went bad.
Friday, detectives served arrest warrants on 16-year-old Race Jay Arthur of Hastings, and 18-year-old Dakota Manucy Constantin of St. Augustine, to be tried as adults on one-count each of possession of cannabis with intent to distribute while armed, a second-degree felony, and tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony.
“Investigation has shown that the drug transaction was actually a ruse developed by Kahlil Cooke to rob Race and Dakota of the marijuana,” the warrants for the two teens say. “Ultimately Race and Dakota shot and killed Kahlil Cooke during the robbery attempt and then fled the shooting scene.”
Constantin has been released from jail after posting bonds totaling $150,000, records show.
Authorities believe that Constantin (who was 17 at the time) and Arthur, agreed on January 20th to meet 20-year-old Kahlil Cooke and a group of others from Jacksonville at an undeveloped area off Stratton Boulevard near SR-16 in order to sell Cooke roughly a pound of marijuana, valued at around $1,000.
The two St. Johns County teens will not be charged with causing Cooke’s death.
That decision was made after an “extensive review of all of the evidence in the case by the State Attorney’s Office Homicide Investigation Unit,” the Sheriff’s Office release said. “The decision was based on evidence that self-defense existed in their actions, albeit while attempting to distribute a pound of Marijuana.”
Those accused of having helped Cooke plan the alleged robbery that ultimately led to his death are facing felony murder charges.
Cooke was pronounced dead at Baptist South hospital on January 20 after being driven there by others who were with him when the deal went wrong.
By the next day detectives had arrested both Dalton James Faulkner, 23, of Jacksonville, and 17-year-old Sarah Mounir Itani, also of Jacksonville, for non-premeditated felony murder and other charges.
Later that week detectives also arrested 18-year-old Gerald Lavon Evans, of Jacksonville, on the same murder charge.
His warrant affidavit says that detectives believe he, Faulkner, Cooke, and Itani were all aware of the planned robbery when they pulled into the meeting place in a black Chevrolet Impala around 4 p.m.
Itani, documents say, climbed into a large pickup truck with two men described at the time only as “white males” in order to inspect the marijuana and distract them.
Cooke and Evans, according to the warrant affidavit in Evans’ case, were armed with “firearms and brass knuckles” when they tried to “forcefully take the marijuana” and a fight ensued.
After one of them grabbed the drugs, Cooke, Evans and Itani began to run back to the Impala, where Faulkner is believed to have been waiting behind the wheel.
During this time one of the white males obtained what was described to be an assault rifle from the truck and shot several rounds at the defendants before fleeing the area,” Evans’ warrant affidavit said.
According to Arthur’s and Constantin’s warrants, both teens were armed, but authorities have not recovered any of the guns involved.
One of the many documents in the case names one other female who is believed to have been in the Impala with Cooke and the others, though records show she has not been charged with a crime.
In addition to the murder charges, Itani is facing a single count of robbery, Faulkner has been charged with robbery with a weapon and tampering with evidence, and Evans has been charged with one count of robbery with a firearm.