A Pennsylvania man who was allegedly hired by a Bayside resident to slash a 16-year-old Whitestone girl — but wound up slashing the wrong person in a case of mistaken identity — has been extradited to Queens to face criminal charges, prosecutors announced.
Devon Berkley, 38, was indicted on first and second-degree assault, fourth-degree conspiracy, endangering the welfare of a child and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, according to Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown. Berkley is scheduled to court on June 7 and, if convicted, faces up to 25 years in prison.
According to the charges, Wilson Lai, 25, of the Oakland Gardens section in Bayside, had a one-year sexual relationship with a Whitestone girl, who was 14 at the time, that began in June 2013. Thereafter, Lai and Berkley allegedly conspired to assault the teenager.
The incident occurred at 8:16 a.m. on the morning of Dec. 16, 2015, near the intersection of 147th Street and 13th Avenue. Berkley twice slashed the face of a 14-year-old Chinese exchange student, who happened to live in the same residence as the intended target, as she walked towards school. The girl was left with two long scars on the left side of her face.
Following the incident, Lai and two unidentified co-conspirators allegedly vandalized a car belonging to the intended target’s family on Jan. 4, 2016. The trio allegedly punctured the vehicle’s tires and left a note stating the wrong girl was attacked and the intended target was next.
Lai was arrested in May 2016 and is awaiting trial on charges including first and second-degree assault, fourth-degree conspiracy and second and third-degree rape. If convicted, he faces up to 32 years in prison.
“[Berkley] is accused of participating with another man in a heinous crime to physically assault a teenage girl without warning or provocation,” Brown said. “In what can only be described as a sick twist of fate, the victim slashed was actually a victim of mistaken identity. The two defendants allegedly meant to target another teenager, a 14-year-old girl with whom one of the defendants is alleged to have had a sexual relationship. Now, for the rest of her life, the victim must bear the physical and emotional scars brought about by the defendants’ alleged mistaken actions.”