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Crime News

Chicago Man Gets 105-Year Sentence For Execution-Style Murder Of 14-Year-Old Girl

The body of 14-year-old Takaylah Tribitt was found facedown in a Gary, Indiana alleyway with her hands tied behind her back. Deonlashawn Simmons was found guilty of the killing.

By Jax Miller
A photo of a dark alley

A Chicago man has been sentenced for the 2019 execution-style murder of a 14-year-old girl.

Deonlashawn Simmons, 36, will serve 105 years behind bars for the shooting death of Takaylah Tribitt, a Lake County judge ruled on Thursday. According to The Times of Northwest Indiana, Tribitt was found facedown in a trash-filled alleyway in Gary, Indiana, on Sept. 16, 2019.

The victim was bound with automotive cords wrapped around her neck and hands, which were tied behind her back, according to the Times. She was shot once in the front of the head at point-blank range.

A Lake County forensic pathologist later determined she was most likely murdered three to four days before the discovery of her body.

“She was dumped in an alley, among the accumulating trash,” said Lake Criminal Court Judge Natalie Bokota. “She was discarded like garbage."

Simmons reportedly met Tribitt - a teenage runaway from Chicago - at a birthday party less than a week before the murder, according to Cincinnati’s Local 12. She had been sexually assaulted multiple times, authorities said.

Simmons, however, was not charged with sex crimes related to Tribitt’s case, according to the Times.

Simmons, who has maintained his innocence since his November 2020 arrest, admitted to meeting Tribitt on Sept. 8, 2019, but claimed he was only trying to help the teen.

On Sept. 13, one day after she was last seen, Tribitt texted a friend to say she was with a “Deon LaShawn,” according to court records obtained by the NWI Times. She was reported missing by a Chicago homeless shelter shortly before her murder.

Simmons became a suspect when DNA from Tribitt’s binding connected him to the murder, according to the NWI Times. Investigators also found social media messages between Simmons and Tribitt in the days preceding Tribitt’s death.

Investigators found a credit card issued to someone with the defendant’s surname, noting that Simmons’ family lived close to the crime scene.

Records showed Tribitt’s last Facebook login was at around 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 13, 2019, according to the NWI Times. Her last known location was near Simmons’ relatives’ home at 1:27 the following morning.

Just three minutes later, Simmons deactivated his Facebook account.

When asked by detectives, Simmons denied having any sexual contact with the victim, claiming he knew that a relationship with the teen was “going to be a problem” because of her age. Simmons said he helped Tribitt by giving her rides and buying her food, but that Tribitt stormed off following an argument on Sept. 13.

Simmons also stated that he heard of Tribitt’s murder “the same (expletive) day” from the news, although the story was not released until the following day. Simmons told authorities he hadn’t been back in Indiana since 2017, despite phone records putting him in the area of his relatives’ Indiana home on Nov. 14, 2019, just a few miles from the crime scene.

Simmons later changed his story and confessed to being in Gary, Indiana, on Sept. 13, 2019; he said and paid a woman for sex at a local truck stop, according to the NWI Times.

A Lake County jury convicted Simmons in March on charges of murder, with firearm and habitual offender enhancements.

“She made it six days with Deon Simmons,” said Lake County Deputy Prosecutor Douglas Shaw. “And then she was dead."

According to the Times, Simmons was on parole at the time of Tribitt’s murder, with five felony convictions under his belt, including promoting prostitution.

Simmons’ defense attorney Michael A. Campbell asked the judge for leniency, citing the fact that the defendant grew up without a father and had a brother who was murdered several years prior, according to the Times. Campbell requested a 56-year sentence with five years probation.

Shaw said he would have sought more than a 105-year sentence, if permitted.

“This is a person that cannot ever be released,” said Shaw. “I don’t want a 95-year-old Deonlashawn Simmons on the street. I don’t trust that.”

Tribitt’s mother was also in court when the judge handed down her sentence.

“She was 14,” Laura Tribitt, said following Thursday’s sentencing. “She was a baby. I don’t want to say no more. I don’t really want to look at him.”