Jailed in killing of Tyshawn Lee, 9, suspects face threats, beatings
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Flanked by four Cook County sheriff’s officers, Corey Morgan didn’t respond to the insults and threats hurled at him by other inmates as he was led through the Cook County Jail.
“You know you gon’ die in that m———-. You know you gon’ die in there.”
Morgan — charged with murder in the shooting death of 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee on the South Side in November 2015 — hadn’t been in custody long. But already it was clear to him and to Cook County Jail officials he wouldn’t be safe in the sprawling jail complex at 26th and California.
For Morgan and others charged in high-profile killings of kids in Chicago, being held in jail poses special threats. Other detainees threaten and beat them. They ask for and get protective custody, away from those who’d do them harm. Or they are transferred to jails elsewhere.
Consider Morgan, 29. He’s one of three men charged with murder in Tyshawn’s fatal shooting near a park in Auburn Gresham — a shooting that was part of an ongoing gang war, according to prosecutors.
Morgan’s brother had been killed and his mother wounded the month before, on Oct. 13, 2015, in a shooting authorities believe was carried out by members of a rival gang.
For revenge, Morgan declared “he was going to kill grandmas, mamas, kids and all,” according to prosecutors.
Twenty days after Morgan’s brother was killed, Tyshawn, a fourth-grader whose father has been identified by the police as being in a rival gang, was playing on a swing at Dawes Park near his grandmother’s home when someone came up and lured him away with the promise of buying him whatever he wanted at a store. The boy, carrying his basketball, followed him into an alley and was shot in the temple, killed execution-style.
Even hardened cops and prosecutors were stunned. His killing was “among the worst I’ve ever seen in my 30 years as a prosecutor,” then Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said.
They weren’t the only ones revolted by the boy’s death.
On Nov. 27, 2015, Morgan was charged. The same day, he told jail officials “he feels threatened and endangered by other inmates due to his charge,” according to records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.
“Inmate Morgan stated he wanted protective custody due to the fact that his case was all over the media,” according to Cook County sheriff’s records.
Morgan told sheriff’s officials “his mother and brother were shot, and that didn’t go on the news. His brother was killed, so he feels that the police are trying to make it as if this was a case of retaliation.”
On Dec. 10, 2015, Morgan was granted his wish to be moved, with a transfer to the Kankakee County Jail, from which he is driven back to Chicago by sheriff’s officers every time he’s due in court.
When he was brought back just five days after the move, bodycam footage obtained by the Sun-Times shows other inmates threatening him.
“Detainees in the bullpen next to detainee Morgan recognized him from the news and began shouting at him saying they were going to get him and that he was going to die,” a sheriff’s report says.
“That’s what they do, ya know,” a sheriff’s officer is heard on the video telling him, acting as if he were sympathizing. “They in jail, too, for something, f—. They in jail for doin’ s— they ain’t supposed to be doin’, too, so they can shut the f— on up.”
Morgan’s lawyer didn’t respond to an interview request.
Dwright Boone-Doty, 24, is one of the two other men charged with Morgan. He was already being held at the Cook County Jail in an unrelated case when he was charged in Tyshawn’s death, as well as another shooting that left a woman dead and a man wounded.
A jailhouse informant secretly recorded Boone-Doty talking about the shootings, sources previously told the Sun-Times. Boone-Doty laughed about Tyshawn’s death, saying he “seen that bitch go in his head,” according to prosecutors, who have said he was writing a rap song in jail that mentioned the killing.
Boone-Doty apparently felt threatened in jail, too. After Morgan was charged, records show Boone-Doty requested protective custody, telling jail officials his brother had been killed in the gang war and that the police were trying to make Tyshawn’s death look as if it was a case of retaliation, records show.
He was put in protective custody. But, after a fight in February 2016 during the hour he was out of his cell, Boone-Doty was put in “disciplinary segregation placement” with the other three who were involved in the fight. Later that week, he again asked for and received protective custody, saying “he was in fear for his life.”
In April, Boone-Doty was slated to be transferred to a different division of the jail. But he refused, records show. He and his cellmate barricaded themselves in their cell with a mattress “and jammed the door with milk cartons” to keep it from being opened. Sheriff’s officers eventually used a 75-pound weight to open the cell door.
At 4:15 p.m. on July 7, a sheriff’s officer reported seeing Boone-Doty standing “on the unsecure side of the top rail in front of cell 1309 with a bed sheet tied loosely around his neck,” according to sheriff’s office records.
He refused orders to get back to a secure area and remove the sheet from the railing. Eventually, sheriff’s officers “were able to return detainee Doty to the secure side, place him in handcuffs and escort him to a dispensary for a medical and psych evaluation,” a sheriff’s report says.
After a brief court hearing Thursday, the assistant public defender representing Boone-Doty declined to comment when asked about the suicide attempt.
Kevin Edwards — the third man charged in Tyshawn’s murder — was transferred to the Livingston County Jail just two days after his May 2016 arrest, according to the sheriff’s office.
Despite his brief time at 26th and California, Edwards asked to be placed in protective custody there “due to his charges and his case being high-profile,” records show.
Cara Smith, chief policy officer for the sheriff’s office, says the transfers of Morgan and Edwards were prompted by “security and operational concerns, as well as to keep all three offenders separated from each other.”
In a separate case, Antwan Jones, 19, was charged with murder in February, accused of shooting at a group of people on the South Side and killing 11-year-old Takiya Holmes, a cousin of Andrew Holmes, a Chicago anti-violence activist.
Takiya was one of three children — along with 2-year-old Lavontay White and 12-year-old Kanari Gentry-Bowers — shot and killed in Chicago in less than a week in February.
Before Jones was to appear in court for a bail hearing, sheriff’s officials say he was beaten by another inmate, 24-year-old Renard Williams, who’s jailed for murder in the June 2016 death of a man in Austin.
The attack on Jones was caught by surveillance video the sheriff’s office released.
In February 2017, Jones requested and was granted protective custody “because of his charges (murder: high profile case),” according to the sheriff’s office.
Protective custody also was offered to two of the three men charged in Lavontay’s killing, records show, though only one — Devon Swan — accepted.
Kenneth Williams — one of two men charged in another high-profile killing, that of South Side high-schooler Hadiya Pendleton in January 2013 — twice has requested and been granted protective custody this year “for personal reasons concerning his safety,” according to sheriff’s records.