Not guilty verdict for man charged in murder of 11-year-old Shamiya Adams
A stray bullet struck flew through an open window, passed through a wall and struck the girl inside her bedroom.
A jury found 24-year-old Tevin Lee not guilty of the 2014 murder of an 11-year-old girl who was killed by a stray bullet as she played with friends in her Garfield Park bedroom.
Jurors needed a little more than two hours to reach a verdict following a trial that spanned two weeks. Prosecutors had tried to build the case that Lee had fired four shots at a group of teens who had beaten up a 14-year-old friend of Lee’s hours before, sending an errant shot that flew through an open window, passed through a closet and the bedroom wall of Shamiya Adams’ bedroom, striking her in the back of the head.
Closing out the case against Lee on Wednesday, Assistant State’s Attorney John Maher said that Lee had allegedly fired four shots at the crowd, and that whomever he was allegedly aiming at, Lee was guilty of first-degree murder.
As his defense team had done throughout the trial, Assistant Public Defender Lakshmi Jha pointed the finger at a close friend of Lee’s nicknamed “Boo Man,” whose younger brother had been beaten up by older boys near Adams’ West Garfield Park home hours before the shooting. Boo Man, Jha said, had fired the fatal shots, and a string of witnesses who had identified Lee as the gunman were all either “opportunists, convicted felons or proven liars.”
“This is Boo Man’s fight. This is his little brother who got jumped on,” Jha said.
Five years ago, the death of a fifth grader who was in the middle of a sleepover with friends had scandalized the city of Chicago. Hundreds attended vigils for the bubbly girl nicknamed “Queen,” and then-Gov. Pat Quinn and Jesse Jackson had been among the dignitaries that attended Shamiya’s funeral.
For closing arguments Wednesday afternoon, the courtroom was sparsely packed with a handful of observers that included only a few of Shamiya’s relatives, outnumbered by a half-dozen supporters seated on Lee’s side of the gallery.
A friend of Shamiya’s, now a teenager, testified they had been seated on the bedroom floor getting ready to make s’mores when a cloud of drywall sprayed from the wall. It struck the fifth grader in the back of the head, killing her.
Lee took the stand Wednesday afternoon and admitted that he had lied to police when questioned about the shooting and denied that he’d been at the scene, much less pulled the trigger. Wednesday, he said he had gone to the neighborhood to defuse tensions.
Boo Man, who worked with Lee at an anti-violence group, was the one that fired the fateful shots.
“I was scared,” Lee said. “He was my friend and I didn’t want to get him in trouble.”
Lee’s scruple against fingering his friend for a murder that scandalized Chicago in the summer of 2014 had eroded by the time he took the stand. Boo Man, now serving jail time on an unrelated case, testified earlier this week, and his name figured prominently in closing arguments.