A Missouri teen has been charged as an adult in the brutal murder of a St. Louis man.
Robert Mitchell, 17, turned himself in to authorities on Sunday night. Police say Mitchell and a group of other teens attacked Zemir Begic, 32, with a hammer in an altercation in the early morning hours of Nov. 30. Mitchell is charged with first degree murder and armed criminal action, according to court documents.
Two other suspects, 15 and 16, are in custody and are currently charged with first degree murder as juveniles. KMOV reports that a hearing will be held to determine whether the teens will be tried as adults. A fourth suspect remains at large.
"This crime is extremely heinous, extremely gruesome, and I think it's appropriate that they stand trial as adults," St. Louis circuit attorney Jennifer Joyce told the station.
Witnesses said that Mitchell and his friends exchanged words with Begic as he was walking to his car with his fiance and two friends. According to a probable cause statement, one of the teens then jumped onto the back of the man's car. When Begic got out of the car to confront the teens, they allegedly bludgeoned him with hammers and fled.
Arijana Mujkanovic, who was engaged to Begic told KSDK that her fiance put himself in harm's way to protect her.
"The last thing he did before he actually died was pull me out of the way and put himself in front of me, basically giving up his life for me," Mujkanovic told the station.
Begic was found unconscious with serious injuries to his head, face, mouth and abdomen. He was pronounced dead at an area hospital Sunday.
Both police and St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay maintain that there is no evidence that the brutal killing was motivated by race or ethnicity. Of the three suspects in custody, two are black and one is Hispanic.
However, the man's murder has drawn outrage, anger and fear from the Bosnian community in St. Louis, who took to the streets in the city's Bevo Mill neighborhood Sunday night in protest.
Family told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Begic had come to the United States from Bosnia with his family in 1996 and eventually settled in Iowa. Begic moved to St. Louis a few months ago and became engaged to Mujkanovic, whose family lives in St. Louis.
"He loved America," his sister, Denisa Begic, 23, told the newspaper. "We come from Bosnia because we were getting killed and our homes and families were getting destroyed. Never in my life did I think he would get murdered."