Nine-year-old Tyshawn Lee was allegedly lured into an alley with the promise of a juice box.
But the fourth grader would never get the treat he was promised. Instead he’d be shot to death in an alleged gang retaliation attack, his thumb blown off as he tried to raise his hands to defend himself, the Associated Press reports. The basketball that he’d been playing with at Chicago’s Dawes Park just minutes earlier would be found not far from his lifeless body.
“It was one of the most evil things I’ve ever seen,” the Rev. Michael Pfleger, who discovered the body, told the AP. The Roman Catholic priest would later preside over the nine-year-old’s funeral.
According to prosecutors, Lee was killed by gang members seeking retribution against his father. The two men who police believe carried out the execution in November 2015, Dwright Boone-Doty and Corey Morgan, are slated to go to trial this month. Jury selection is expected to begin Friday.
It’s a case that stunned even the most seasoned investigators in part due to the victim’s young age, the savage nature of the crime, and the way he was lured to his death with the promise of something so innocent.
“This was something we didn’t even think humanly possible for even hardened gang members,” said John Escalante, the interim police superintendent at the time Boone-Doty was charged for the murder.
According to prosecutors, the boy’s death was the result of an ongoing feud between the Bang Bang Gang/Terror Dome faction of the Black P Stones and the Killa Ward faction of the Black Gangster Disciples.
The month before Lee was gunned down, prosecutors said Morgan’s 25-year-old brother, Tracey Morgan, and his mother were wounded in a shooting the defendants believed was carried out by the Killa Ward faction—a gang which Lee’s father, Pierre Stokes, is allegedly a member of.
In retaliation for the shooting, Boone-Doty allegedly fired into the car of a rival gang member, killing 19-year-old Brianna Jenkins who had been sitting beside his target. The apparent intended target survived the shooting.
But then prosecutors allege that Boone-Doty, Morgan and a third man, Kevin Edwards, who acted as a getaway driver, decided to target Stokes’ son. The group went looking for Lee at Dawes Park on Nov. 2, 2015.
“They all intended that harm was to befall Lee that day,” Assistant State’s Attorney Thomas Darman said in court earlier this month, according to The Chicago Tribune. “They all knew that he was 9 years old.”
Prosecutors have said it was Boone-Doty who approached the boy and struck up a conversation before suggesting they go get a juice box. He then led the fourth grader into an alley where the boy was shot multiple times, prosecutors said.
Shortly after Boone-Doty and Morgan were arrested, then-State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said the group’s initial plan had been to “torture” Lee “by kidnapping and cutting off his fingers and ears,” but the group later decided on the more direct approach.
In the trial to begin later this week with jury selection, Boone-Doty plans to represent himself. Morgan and Boone-Doty will be tried together; however, they will have two separate juries to determine their fates.
Edwards pleaded guilty to first-degree murder earlier this month in exchange for a 25-year-sentence.
In late August, as the high-profile trial approached, Cook County Judge Thaddeus Wilson ordered four witnesses into custody after they failed to respond to subpoenas issued by the prosecutors, according to The Chicago Sun Times. One witness, described as a 20-year-old woman, sobbed as she was taken away and held without bond.
“It pains me to do it. I have no other choice,” Wilson said at the time.
But the woman, who was reportedly walking down a nearby street when she heard gunshots and saw a black SUV drive away, was released earlier this week after a state appellate court sent the case back to the judge twice, once requiring him to set bond for the woman and later sending the case back again after he had set the amount at $100,000, The Chicago Sun Times reports.
The woman had failed to appear for a meeting with prosecutors in March and missed an August court date. Wilson believed several threats to her family may have triggered her reluctance to appear as a witness, even though he had told her she'd be held in contempt of court if she didn't appear.
“It seems as though to me, in essence, she had more fear of what was going on in the street and threats made to her family than anything I had to say," he said.
In July, her father reported that he had been mugged at gunpoint by someone who appeared to reference his daughter's name. She also reportedly moved out of the home she shared with her grandmother after two men showed up at door asking where she was.
Although the witness has now been released, she's been ordered to wear a GPS monitoring device and was required to sign a pledge to come back to court.
The additional witnesses, who remain in jail, are also expected to provide testimony that would place the group at the park the day of the shooting.
Lee’s father is also in jail after he fired at gang rivals the day Boone-Doty first appeared in court, according to the AP. He’s now facing multiple charges, including aggravated battery in the attack that wounded three.
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