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Trial opens for teens accused of murdering Congressman Danny Davis’ grandson

Javon Wilson, 15, was shot in his South Side apartment during an argument over a pair of borrowed Jordans.

Pallbearers carry the casket of Javon Wilson, the 15-year-old grandson of Congressman Danny Davis. Two teens charged with Wilson’s murder are on trial this week.
Pallbearers carry the casket of Javon Wilson, the 15-year-old grandson of Congressman Danny Davis. Two teens charged with Wilson’s murder are on trial this week.
Sun-Times files

The teenage gunman who came knocking at Khaliyah Wilson’s door on a November afternoon three years ago was looking for a pair of Air Jordan sneakers, Cook County prosecutors said.

On Monday, Wilson peered into a cardboard box holding the black gym shoes as she sat on the witness stand in the trial of two teens charged with the murder of her younger brother, Javon Wilson, who was shot inside the apartment as a fight over the return of the Jordans quickly turned deadly.

Javon, 15, was the grandson of U.S. Rep. Danny Davis but prosecutors have been barred from mentioning that teenager was related to the 12-term congressman.

Alleged gunman Tariq Harris and co-defendant Dijae Banks were acquaintances of the Wilsons, and when they arrived at the family’s Englewood apartment after school on the evening of Nov. 18, 2016, Khaliyah Wilson said she was mostly afraid that her mom would come home with dinner and be upset to find uninvited guests.

Harris was 16 at the time of the shooting; Banks was 17.

Banks had swapped the Jordans for a pair of pants with the Wilsons’ then 14-year-old brother, Jeremy Murphy, and Javon refused to return the gym shoes without first getting back the pants, prosecutors said.

Banks had brandished a pistol at Khaliyah Wilson when she’d tried to kick them out of the apartment, and the argument escalated into a hair-pulling, fist-flailing scuffle that ended when Harris fired a single shot from a pistol he got from Banks, prosecutors said.

Banks punched Javon when he tried to separate the two girls, and Wilson punched her back. Banks turned to Harris and said, “You’re going to let him do me like that?” Wilson recalled.

Wilson said she heard a gunshot, then saw Javon fall to the floor. The bullet struck an artery in Javon’s neck, killing him. Banks and Harris seemed shocked, she said.

“They stood there for a minute,” Javon’s sister said. “[Banks] said ‘I didn’t mean for it to go down like this,’ and [Harris said] ‘I didn’t know what I was doing.’”

Banks, now 20, and Harris, now 18, are charged with murder, home invasion and robbery counts.

In opening statements at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse Monday, lawyers for the two defendants did not seem to dispute the facts of the shooting, but cast the killing as a tragic accident that happened during a “girl fight.”

“Nobody at that house on November 18th, 2016, wanted Javon dead,” said Assistant Public Defender Coryn Steinfeld. “We’re talking about a group of friends here. A group of friends that were kids, all between the ages of 14-16 years old... one shot, one terribly terribly unlucky shot, and Javon falls.”

Wilson said she had exchanged “flirtatious” text messages with Banks on Facebook, but said that they were not friends at the time of the shooting, though she and Jeremy were quickly able to find Banks’ and Harris’ Facebook profiles when police arrived.

When she looked up Banks’ Facebook profile the night of the shooting to provide a picture for police officers, one photo showed Banks pointing a pistol at the camera.

“When you saw that photo, what did you do?” Assistant State’s Attorney Natosha Toller asked.

“I cried,” Wilson said.

Davis was not in the gallery on Monday, and has said he will not attend the trial.