A Cook County judge Thursday handed down 59-year prison sentences to two men convicted in a shooting that left former Marshall High School assistant basketball coach Shawn Harrington paralyzed.
Harrington, who was paralyzed from the waist down in the 2013 shooting in the Humboldt Park neighborhood, did not attend the hearing, though prosecutors read letters from Harrington, his daughter and his mother before Judge Thomas Byrne sentenced Cedryck Davis and Deandre Thompson.
Harrington was shot in the spine when the two men opened fire on Harrington’s van when he was stopped at a traffic light at the intersection of Hamlin and Augusta, as he drove his then 15-year-old daughter to school, prosecutors said. When he heard the shots, Harrington threw his body over his daughter, who was unhurt.
A former high school and college hoops standout who later helped coach his alma mater, Marshall, to the 2008 state title, Harrington wrote that losing the ability to run the court, let alone walk, had been painful. His paralysis had made it more difficult for him to continue working as a coach and mentor to young men, and to provide for his daughters.
“My life has been turned upside down over a case of mistaken identity, over a corner that neither one of them owned,” Harrington, who was featured in the 1994 documentary “Hoop Dreams” wrote, in a letter read by Assistant State’s Attorney Eugene Wood. “I just hope these young men realize how they have ruined so many lives over such nonsense.”
Davis and Thompson shared a grin and shook their heads as Byrne announced their sentences, and spent the remainder of the hearing whispering to each other and exchanging rueful smiles and mouthing messages to relatives seated beyond the glassed-in courtroom wall.
The charges of attempted murder and aggravated battery had carried a maximum sentence of 100 years.
The pair had maintained their innocence at trial for the shooting, and Davis, on Thursday, told the judge he was not involved.
“I apologize to the family for what they been through, and I’m gonna continue to claim my innocence,” Davis said. “I have a family, and I have kids, and I just want to be able to see my family again one day.”
Thompson spoke softly, urging his family members to “continue to be positive.”
Byrne was not moved by their remarks, reciting details of the shooting from trial testimony and chastising the two defendants for “unleashing a hail of bullets” on the van at a busy intersection before 8 a.m.
“Shawn Harrington was sentenced by the two of you to a lifetime in a wheelchair,” Byrne said. “You took away his mobility, the mobility of an athlete… you made him dependent on the care of others for the rest of his life.”