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Man pleads guilty to murder of Dwyane Wade’s cousin, Nykea Aldridge

Derren Sorrells | Cook County Sheriff's Department

Derren Sorrells | Cook County Sheriff's Department

The gunman who was charged in the fatal shooting of Dwyane Wade’s cousin in 2016 pleaded guilty to murder on Tuesday.

Nykea Aldridge | Facebook photo

Nykea Aldridge | Facebook photo

Derren Sorrells, who was charged with the murder of 32-year-old Nykea Aldridge, admitted to firing shots at a man he thought was a member of a rival gang. But the bullets struck Aldridge as she pushed her infant daughter in a stroller nearby on a South Side street.

The charge carries a sentence of 20 to 60 years in prison, but in a deal with Cook County prosecutors, Sorrells pleaded guilty to a single count of first-degree murder in exchange for a sentence of 27 years. His change of plea comes some two months after his brother and co-defendant, Darwin Sorrells Jr., agreed to testify against him in exchange for a 20-year sentence on a reduced charge of conspiracy to commit murder.

Darwin Sorrells has a hearing scheduled for Wednesday.

Octavus Crockett, 5, cries as he listens to his mother, Raven Roberts, talk about her aunt Nykea Aldridge during a vigil at the Willie Mae Morris Empowerment Center on Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016.

Octavus Crockett, 5, cries as he listens to his mother, Raven Roberts, talk about her aunt Nykea Aldridge during a vigil at the Willie Mae Morris Empowerment Center on Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Aldridge’s mother, Diann Aldridge, told the Chicago Sun-Times that she will not be in court when the brothers are formally sentenced. Diann Aldridge, a minister who is raising her daughter’s four children, said that she knew both Sorrells from when they had attended her church as boys, and takes no pleasure in knowing they will go to prison.

D’Kota, the month-old baby Nykea Aldridge had been pushing in the stroller the day she was shot is now a talkative 2-year-old, the grandmother said. The younger Aldridge’s three older children, are doing well in school in south suburban Country Club Hills, Diann Aldridge said.

“I couldn’t hate (the Sorrell brothers). I just asked God to forgive them. What good is it going to do to sit there and hear what’s going to happen?” Diann Aldridge said on Tuesday. “I don’t need to sit there and be reminded of their faces. I know who they are.”

Derren Sorrells confessed, prosecutors said, and also implicated his brother, Darwin Sorrells. Nykea Aldridge’s death had gained national attention in the summer of 2016 both because of Wade’s NBA stardom and then-presidential candidate Donald Trump citing Aldridge’s death as a sign of the violence in American cities — and as a reason for African-Americans to vote for him.

Wade, a 12-time NBA All Star who played high school basketball in south suburban Robbins, had signed a contract with his hometown Chicago Bulls not long before the shooting.

Dwyane Wade, who now plays for the Miami Heat |  AP

Chicago police said the Sorrells, who were on parole at the time of the shooting, had been targeting a man who had just dropped off a carload of women near where Aldridge was walking in the 6300 block of South Calumet Avenue. She on her way to register her three older children at a nearby school.

In his plea agreement, Darwin Sorrells said his brother called him after another man who he did not recognize from the neighborhood, pointed a gun at him in the 6300 block of South Calumet. Darwin Sorrells, arrived at the scene with a gun, and his brother, who also was armed, confronted the man. The man took off running, and Derren Sorrells opened fire, Darwin Sorrells said. Darwin Sorrells said he did not fire his own gun.

Darwin Sorrells told prosecutors he and his brother hid the guns in a building, and only learned that Aldridge had been shot after they came out, the plea agreement states.

A security guard at the school heard the shots and saw Aldridge on the ground and the Sorrells running away, prosecutors said. Surveillance camera footage from the nearby Parkway Gardens housing project showed the two men walking up to the shooting scene with guns drawn.

After his arrest, Derren Sorrells identified himself on the surveillance video and admitted to firing 11 or 12 shots, prosecutors said Tuesday. Aldridge was struck four times, including twice in the head.