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DNA links man to autistic CPS student’s murder, prosecutors say; no motive given

Darryl Ray (left) has been charged in the murder of Whitney Young student Brandon Porter-Young. | Police; Whitney Young

Darryl Ray (left) has been charged in the murder of Whitney Young student Brandon Porter-Young. | Police; Whitney Young

Cook County prosecutors accused a 31-year-old man of brutally stabbing a young autistic man to death last year in East Garfield Park, but gave no motive for the slaying during a hearing Friday.

Darryl Ray faces counts of first-degree murder and felony murder in the death of 18-year-old Brandon Porter-Young, who was a senior at Whitney Young High School on the Near West Side when he was killed in the East Garfield Park hotel room where he lived with his mother.

Prosecutors said Ray moved to the fourth floor of the Jr Plaza Hotel II at 3001 W. Jackson Blvd. after serving part of a nine-year-sentence for a 2009 conviction for a robbery of a disabled person and aggravated battery to a police officer.

The Jr Plaza Hotel II at 3001 W. Jackson Blvd. | Sun-Times/Justin Jackson; providedPorter-Young, his mother and her boyfriend also lived in a room on the fourth floor of the hotel, where his mother was employed, authorities said.

On Feb. 2, 2018, Porter-Young was left alone in the room with the only key while his mother and her boyfriend ran errands, prosecutors said.

When they returned to the hotel room later that day, Porter-Young did not respond to their knocks on the door, or calls to his cellphone, which they could hear ringing inside the room. When his mother got another key from the hotel and entered the room, she found her son covered in blood, having been stabbed repeatedly in the chest, back, abdomen and arms, prosecutors said.

Emergency crews responded, but Porter-Young was pronounced dead at the scene, officials said.

The hotel room was found in disarray, prosecutors said. A cigarette butt and swab collected from under Porter-Young’s thumbnail were taken for evidence, prosecutors said. DNA collected from both pieces of evidence linked Ray to the room, prosecutors said.

Ray, who appeared for a bail hearing Friday at the Leighton Criminal Court Building in a yellow prison jumpsuit, shook his head and sighed heavily several times as prosecutors spoke.

Ray’s public defender said he was most recently employed as a temporary worker at a job in Rogers Park and had completed his sophomore year of high school.

Two months after he allegedly killed Porter-Young, Ray was indicted on charges of aggravated battery to a police officer and robbery in a separate case, records show. He pleaded guilty last May and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Ray was serving that sentence at the Menard Correctional Facility when he was transferred to the Cook County Jail on Monday, according to records. He was charged Wednesday with Porter-Young’s murder.

Following his death, classmates and teachers remembered Porter-Young for his love of basketball, music and gardening.

He had been diagnosed with autism and had a difficult time verbally communicating with people, especially those he did not know, Whitney Young Principal Joyce Dorsey Kenner told the Sun-Times last year.

Judge Stephanie Miller cited Porter-Young’s disability and that he had been stabbed multiple times in her decision to deny Ray bail at the hearing, though to due to his conviction last year, he would not have been released if bail had been set and he posted bond.

His next court appearance was set for Feb. 6.