A former Joliet man was convicted of murder Thursday for his role in the 2016 murder of 17-year-old Anthony Heatherly during a small-scale drug deal in a Norwood Park strip mall.
Tramian Barnes was free on $1 million bond for allegedly shooting another drug dealer in a similar deadly encounter in 2014, when he and a burly friend met Heatherly outside a Taco Burrito King in the 5500 block of North Harlem Avenue in April 2016.
After Heatherly was shot in the chest and dumped out of the driver’s seat of his car, Barnes drove over Heatherly with Heatherly’s car, dragging his body several feet, Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney James Murphy said during his closing arguments.
Heatherly’s mother erupted in sobs as the guilty verdict was read, and paused as she left the courtroom to throw her arms around a detective who had worked on the case. Barnes, 24, showed no reaction.
Barnes testified Wednesday, saying he and his co-defendant Kenyatta Alexander intended to buy drugs from Heatherly, and make amends for Alexander previously buying with counterfeit money. Murphy argued that the pair had planned to rob Heatherly in broad daylight, and wound up killing the teenager when he fought back.
“[Barnes and Alexander] see an easy mark and that’s why they went there,” Murphy said. “They were going to rob the weed guy.”
On the witness stand, Barnes admitted lying to police when he was questioned about the murder, but said that Heatherly pulled a gun during the deal, and that Alexander shot him during a struggle for the weapon.
After the shooting, Barnes and Alexander drove off in Heatherly’s car, wiped the vehicle down, pulled off the license plates and vehicle logos before leaving it in Maywood. Surveillance cameras filmed the pair getting in and out of the car, shoving Heatherly out and driving over him as they fled.
Barnes said he was too shocked and frightened immediately after the shooting to contact police, and admitted lying to investigators when he was questioned.
“I didn’t want to be accused of something I didn’t do,” he said “I didn’t shoot him and I didn’t rob him.”
Alexander is awaiting trial for Heatherly’s murder.
Barnes is also awaiting trial for the fatal 2014 shooting of Alexander Anderson in Portage Park.
Anderson — like Heatherly — had gone to meet Barnes for a drug deal, and was shot in the abdomen and arm, prosecutors said. A witness who had accompanied Anderson, 19, to the deal, said Anderson told him “Trea shot me” as he bled to death. Alexander repeated the identification to police, even giving an investigator Barnes’ cellphone number before he died, prosecutors said.
Barnes was arrested for that murder soon after in Georgia, where he’d been enrolled in college.