Vandetta Redwood took the witness stand last month and refused to say what she knows about the 2014 shooting death of 14-year-old Endia Martin in the Back of the Yards.
She has been accused of yelling “shoot the bitch” during the brawl that left Martin dead almost two years ago. But asked to testify about it two weeks ago at Cook County’s criminal courthouse, Redwood said simply, “I plead the Fifth Amendment.”
Now Redwood, 34, must answer to a federal indictment that accuses her of supplying the loaded .38-special revolver allegedly used by a teenage relative to take Martin’s life. She is also charged with possessing a firearm within 1,000 feet of Oliver Wendell Holmes Elementary School and Visitation Catholic School.
While the charges carry a maximum of 15 years in prison, a federal trial could carry greater consequences for Redwood if new evidence is revealed. A senior source in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office said Thursday the investigation into Redwood’s role in the murder is ongoing. Her attorney declined to comment.
Redwood pleaded not guilty during an arraignment after her arrest Thursday and was ordered into custody by U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. She is due back in court Tuesday. The teenage girl accused of pulling the trigger is awaiting trial in Cook County juvenile court.
U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon, who spoke publicly last fall about Chicago’s battle with gun violence, called it a “priority” Thursday to prosecute federal gun laws as his office announced the charges against Redwood.
“We will not hesitate to use every available tool to charge those responsible for furthering the cycle of violence in Chicago,” Fardon said in a statement.
Redwood dodged charges early on in connection with Martin’s murder. She was charged in the days after the April 28, 2014, shooting with mob action and obstruction of justice. But Cook County Judge Donald Panarese Jr. dismissed the case weeks later, calling video evidence supporting those charges “choppy” and “poor.”
Donnell Flora, Redwood’s cousin, has since been convicted of first-degree murder in Martin’s death, as well as the attempted first-degree murder of another girl wounded in the incident. Prosecutors also accused him of providing the weapon to his niece, then 14, who then used it to kill Martin in the 900 block of West Garfield.
When called to testify in Flora’s trial, Redwood repeatedly invoked her constitutional right not to incriminate herself.
Flora, 27, admitted during his trial that he gave his niece the gun before she confronted girls who had been feuding with her on Facebook. But Flora insisted he told the girl to give the weapon to Redwood, and he saw her do so. Flora’s attorney said it was Redwood who coaxed the minor to pull the trigger by commanding her to “shoot the bitch.”
Martin’s best friend, Lanekia Reynolds, was also injured in the shooting. Reynolds had been fighting with the alleged shooter on social media after the two got into a heated spat over a boy, prosecutors said.
Contributing: Rummana Hussain