Crime - Sacto 911

El Dorado Hills shooting victim remembered for making others laugh

Joslynn Sovenski in her Ponderosa High School graduation attire.
Joslynn Sovenski in her Ponderosa High School graduation attire.

Hours before her death at a Carmichael apartment complex Saturday, Joslynn Sovenski bought a car so she could drive to her new job as a restaurant manager in El Dorado Hills.

Sovenski, 18, was a social butterfly and always wanted to make others laugh, friends and family said Monday. She had recently graduated from Ponderosa High School, lived in El Dorado Hills and was planning to enlist in the Air Force.

But her life ended early Saturday at a party when she was shot in the chest, Sacramento County sheriff’s deputies say, by Kenyatta Makhia Brown.

“She was more than just a sister. She was my best friend,” said Danny Sovenski, 20.

Sheriff’s investigators believe Brown, 22, negligently handled the gun and accidentally discharged it, killing Sovenski. The victim and suspect did not know each other and were at the party because of mutual acquaintances, according to authorities.

Danny Sovenski, who described himself as overprotective of his younger sister, said his family is struggling with the death and wonders why a gun was brought to the gathering. He said he saw a video that showed his sister posing with a gun about an hour before the 2:45 a.m. shooting.

“It was basically a video of her and another girl holding up a gun with music in the background,” Danny Sovenski said.

He said his sister had recently been stressed out from work and had begun partying with the wrong crowd.

“You almost don’t believe that’s your sister playing around,” Danny Sovenski said.

Brown was arrested Sunday on a felony charge of involuntary manslaughter and booked into Sacramento County Main Jail, where he remaind without bail. The suspect declined to be interviewed and was scheduled to appear in court Tuesday. He does not have a criminal record in Sacramento County, according to court records.

Sheriff’s officials were examining what role alcohol may have played. Department spokesman Tony Turnbull said it is customary to conduct a blood test in cases of homicide. No other firearms were recovered, he added.

The suspect’s father, Kenyatta Makhia Brown Sr. of Sacramento, declined comment. “We will discuss this at a later time,” he said, when reached by phone Monday.

The suspect’s aunt, Sabrina Briggs of Sacramento, described Brown as outgoing and called the shooting a “horrible accident.”

“I know that he would never do this,” Briggs said. “He didn’t play with guns.”

Magen Chadburn, 18, met Joslynn Sovenski in sixth grade, when they were students at Rolling Hills Middle School in El Dorado Hills. Sovenski wore glasses at the time and seemed smart, Chadburn said.

“I turned to her and asked her to do my homework,” Chadburn said. “She did it for me, but when I got it back, I received a zero.”

Instead of getting mad, Chadburn became friends with Sovenski, and the pair joked about the prank.

“She purposely got them all wrong,” Chadburn said.

From that point forward, the two girls were inseparable. “We just accepted each other … I’ve never been closer to anyone in my life.”

Sovenski was also remembered for her unwavering spirit. While she struggled to keep her grades up, she “really locked down” during senior year and boosted her grade-point average from 1.9 to 3.5, her brother said.

“No one ever thought she could graduate school,” Danny Sovenski said. “She proved everyone wrong.”

Richard Chang: 916-321-1018, @RichardYChang

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