CHICAGO (AP) — A jury on Friday convicted a man who prosecutors said plotted then tried to cover up the 2015 slaying of a 9-year-old boy who was lured into a Chicago alley with the promise of a juice box.
Corey Morgan showed no emotion as a clerk announced that he was guilty of first-degree murder, a quiet ending to a story of a crime so brutal that it shocked a city accustomed to almost daily stories of gun violence. The verdict came after a separate jury convicted Morgan’s co-defendant, Dwright Boone-Doty, on Thursday and after a third man, Kevin Edwards, pleaded guilty last month in exchange for a 25-year prison sentence.
Prosecutors argued that the “execution” of Tyshawn Lee was carried out as revenge, that the suspects believed the fourth grader’s father was responsible for a shooting weeks earlier that left Morgan’s brother dead and his mother wounded. It was shortly after the shooting death of Tracey Morgan that Corey Morgan made the plans to kill a relative of Lee’s father, according to testimony at the trial.
“He said, ‘Everybody must die,'” Moesha Walker, Edwards’ sister testified. “Grandmas, mamas, kids and all.”
During closing arguments, Assistant State’s Attorney Craig Engebretson reminded jurors of the Morgan’s chilling promise of revenge.
“They went after his family, he’s going after their family,” Assistant State’s Attorney Craig Engebretson told jurors.
Morgan and Boone-Doty could be sentenced to up to 100 years in prison.
Tyshawn was killed after prosecutors say Morgan, Edwards and Boone-Doty spotted him shooting baskets on the city’s South Side. Morgan and Edwards watched as Boone-Doty walked over to Tyshawn, struck up a conversation and picked up the boy’s basketball, they said.
What prosecutors said happened next turned one of hundreds of killings in Chicago that year into a national news story: Boone-Doty persuaded Tyshawn to come into an alley — out of sight of anyone else in the park — by promising him a juice box. Once in the alley, Boone-Doty pulled out a gun and fired several times at close range, according to prosecutors.
People in the park who came running over found the boy’s body, his basketball a few feet away.
Prosecutors said Morgan gave Boone-Duty the gun just before he approached the boy. The murder weapon, they told jurors, was a gun that another brother of Morgan’s had bought in New Mexico and mailed to him.
While Boone-Duty’s DNA was found on Tyshawn’s basketball, no scientific evidence linked Morgan to the crime. Instead, prosecutors relied on a witness who testified to seeing Morgan at the park and to seeing what he believed was a large gun in Morgan’s pocket. They also presented GPS and cellphone evidence they said put him at the park that day, as well as evidence that shortly after the shooting he started looking at the Facebook pages of Tyshawn’s father and mother.
“He wants to see them hurt the way he hurt,” said Engebretson.
Morgan’s lawyers said police focused on him because he was a gang member, and they argued that the person who identified Morgan as being in the park did so only after asking about a reward. Police wanted to quickly solve the case, and Morgan “made sense” because of the shooting of his brother and mother, attorney Todd Pugh told jurors Thursday.
“He, in the eyes of police, is one of those throwaway people,” Pugh said. He later went on to add: “He was a gang banger who police thought was never going to amount to anything.”
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