ST. LOUIS • The last of four teenagers who police say attacked and killed a Bosnian immigrant with hammers last year was charged as an adult Tuesday in the crime.
Travis D. Kidd, 17, of the 4200 block of Gannett Street in the city’s Bevo Mill neighborhood, was certified as an adult and charged Tuesday with first-degree murder and armed criminal action.
Kidd was 16 years old at the time Zemir Begic, 32, was attacked and killed. Kidd was being held in lieu of $300,000 cash-only bail.
Police said Begic was heading home from a bar with a friend and his girlfriend about 1:15 a.m. Nov. 30 in the 4200 block of Itaska when several juveniles approached and began damaging his car. Police said Begic got out to confront the teens, who began yelling at him and hitting him with hammers.
Court records say Kidd jumped on the back of Begic’s car and then struck Begic in the head with a hammer. Charges say Kidd and the three other teens continued beating Begic after he was on the ground.
Begic, who lived in the 4200 block of Miami Street, suffered injuries to his head, abdomen, face and mouth. He died at St. Louis University Hospital.
A motive in the case isn’t clear. Begic was killed amid elevated racial tension in the St. Louis area about a week after a grand jury decided not to indict a white Ferguson police officer for fatally shooting a unarmed black teenager. Some claimed that Begic was attacked because he was Bosnian; the suspects are white, black and Hispanic, according to authorities. Police said the investigation has not revealed a racial motive.
Kidd has been in juvenile detention since at least December. Circuit Judge Jimmie Edwards certified Kidd as an adult Monday. In his ruling, Edwards said Kidd was “both sophisticated and streetwise” to have committed such a crime and at that hour; he also said Kidd tested positive for marijuana at the time he was admitted to a juvenile detention center and has had more than 20 reports of aggressive behavior while detained for the killing of Begic.
Juan Carlos Fabian-Lutz and Darrian Johner, both 16 at the time and from St. Louis, were previously charged in the fatal beating. Robert Mitchell, then 17, turned himself in to police less than 24 hours after the incident. All have been charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action.
Begic and his family came to the United States from Bosnia in 1996, moving first to Utica, N.Y., before living in Waterloo, Iowa, and then St. Louis, his family has said. He worked as a truck driver and also loved singing. Begic’s brother, Rasim Begic, said he believes his brother had performed at the Hollywood restaurant on Gravois Avenue the night he was attacked.
Rasim Begic, 21, of Waterloo, Iowa, said he and his uncle attended the court hearing Monday in which Kidd was certified to stand trial as an adult.
“It was hard for me to hear them say that it was actually him (who swung the hammer), Rasim Begic said. “I looked at (Kidd) in the eyes and he just looked down. I was just staring at him wondering why, why he had to hit him that way?”
Rasim Begic said he is happy the fourth teen’s case will move to adult court but still heartbroken over his brother’s death.
“We can’t bring him back,” he said. “He’s in God’s hands. No matter what, (Zemir) is here within us. We can’t see him, but in our hearts, he will always remain.”