‘I don’t know if you have a soul’: Prolific Wicked Town killer gets 50 years in prison

Relatives of Darius Murphy’s victims told a judge during a somber hearing Tuesday that Murphy should never walk free again.

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An assault rifle authorities seized from a member of the Wicked Town street gang.

An assault rifle authorities seized from a member of the Wicked Town street gang.

U.S. District Court

Before Tuesday’s sentencing hearing for the man known as the “most ruthless shooter” in the murderous Wicked Town street gang, prosecutors told the judge that Darius Murphy “may be the most violent, dangerous and depraved defendant” to appear before him.

When the time finally came for U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin to sentence Murphy — who has admitted murdering seven people in less than three years — the judge recalled that prediction by the feds. He then looked straight at Murphy, and he said, “You are.”

“I don’t know if you have a soul,” Durkin said.

The judge noted that, in some states, Murphy could have faced lethal injection, the electric chair, hanging or even a firing squad. But in the end, Durkin accepted a plea deal, struck by Murphy with prosecutors, which capped his sentence at 50 years in prison.

Durkin handed Murphy, 23, that half-century behind bars Tuesday. In doing so, he accepted the argument that Murphy’s deal gives finality to the families of Murphy’s victims, who will be spared the risks of a trial and what could be a yearslong appeals process.

Still, Durkin said the sentence “mocks the values” of the victims.

“What a waste,” he told the courtroom at the end of the hearing. “What a waste of lives.”

A federal jury in November convicted Donald “Lil’ Don” Lee, the leader of the West Side’s Wicked Town gang, of a racketeering conspiracy at the end of a two-month trial. Murphy pleaded guilty in August, ahead of the trial. Though he admitted to several murders as part of that deal, prosecutors also agreed that he would be sentenced to between 40 and 50 years.


Darius Murphy

U.S. Attorney’s Office

Murphy was the first defendant in the Wicked Town case to be sentenced.

Durkin could have rejected Murphy’s deal, but prosecutors argued there were risks involved in taking him to trial. The appeals process could have dragged on for years. Now, Murphy’s appeal rights are extremely limited.

Still, relatives of Murphy’s victims told the judge during Tuesday’s somber hearing that Murphy should never walk free again.

Johnnice Chew, the aunt of Diane Taylor, wept as she reminded the judge that Murphy didn’t even know her niece. Murphy shot Taylor and Donald Holmes Jr. in a Jeep Cherokee that was sitting outside Murphy’s home on Jan. 31, 2018. He did so because Holmes was wrongly suspected of snitching to law enforcement.

Later, prosecutors said Murphy was caught on tape describing the murder and “laughed with delight” as he did so. He also allegedly bragged about grabbing Taylor by her wig as she tried to escape.

“He should not be allowed to walk this Earth,” Chew told Durkin.

Sondra Link recounted the day Murphy murdered her son, Dan Rance. Murphy shot Rance in the back, stood over him and continued the execution on Sept. 2, 2015, prosecutors said.

Link told the judge that Murphy “is a vile, ruthless, treacherous person, and he’s a serial murderer.”

Murphy also murdered Alfred Stovall in April 2017, shooting him seven times at close range because Murphy believed Stovall was a member of a rival gang, according to the feds. At the time, Stovall was taking his 1-year-old son out of a baby seat, prosecutors said.

Stovall’s widow told the judge that her small children now call Murphy “the bad man.”

Murphy’s other murder victims included James Douthard, killed in August 2015; Kishaun Mobley, killed in December 2017; and Uriah Hughes, killed in January 2018.

Even Murphy’s defense attorneys, Molly Armour and Cynthia Giacchetti, seemed to fight through tears during Tuesday’s hearing. Armour told the victims’ relatives, “There are no words to make you whole.” But she said Murphy was “exceptionally vulnerable” when he was taken in by the Wicked Town gang and “weaponized by predators” at age 14.

Murphy also spoke during the hearing. He said he’d always looked for a father figure in his life. He and his attorneys said he is plagued by nightmares. And he repeatedly apologized to his victims’ relatives, telling them he was doing it “so I can try to go to sleep tonight.”

Durkin began to hand down his sentence after Murphy spoke. He decried the “carnage” and the “horror” of Murphy’s case. He asked, “What is the world you came from?” But he also said that adults failed Murphy, and he agreed that Lee “turned you into a killing machine.”

The judge said that Murphy’s father was “missing in action,” but he added that “there are kids growing up without fathers — because you killed those fathers.”

As for Murphy’s nightmares, the judge gestured to the side of the courtroom where the victims’ relatives sat, and he told Murphy, “Everybody on that side of the room is plagued by nightmares too.”

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