Two teenage boys were denied bail Sunday as they face charges in the shooting deaths of two teens who lawyers said were their friends.
Leslie Ward, 17, and Kahlil Colone, 16, were each charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the August killings of 16-year-old Raysuan Turner and 17-year-old Darnelle Flowers, who were found dead two days after they had been shot in a Far South Side field. Both teens are being charged as adults.
Cook County Judge John Fitzgerald Lyke Jr. called the allegations “the epitome of evil” at the teens’ initial court appearance on Sunday. Sitting in the courtroom gallery were Turner’s father, stepmother and mother, who said the four boys were friends for years.
“They trusted them and they never saw this coming,” said Rayneicia Morris, Turner’s mother. “They didn’t know they had a dark cloud behind them when they walked in that park.”
Witnesses on Aug. 17, the day of the shooting, overheard Ward tell Colone that they needed to “get rid” of Flowers and Turner because they “had money on their heads,” prosecutors said on Sunday without elaborating. Colone told Ward that he asked Turner and Flowers to meet up at Golden Gate Park, according to Assistant State’s Attorney Daniel Crone.
Once at the park, the group went into a wooded area near 131st Street and Rhodes Avenue, before Colone came back out and asked two different witnesses — who he and Ward knew — to hold onto a pair of cell phones, Crone said. When he went back into the woods, gunfire erupted and the witnesses ran away.
The next day, Colone confronted the witnesses, asked why they ran off and told them to forget that he and Ward were ever at the park, Crone said.
Later that day, Ward gave another witness a bag with a gun inside, told the person to hide the gun and threatened to kill them and shoot up their home if they told anyone about the gun, Crone said.
Ward also told that witness that Colone shot Flowers and Turner, Crone said.
Meanwhile, Morris — Turner’s mother — reported her son missing. She started searching for the teen in areas he usually hung out. At one point she came across Ward and Colone, showed them pictures of her son and asked if they had seen him, Crone said.
After initially telling Morris that he had never seen Turner before, Colone changed his story and said he had seen Turner the day before but did not remember where. Ward told Morris that he and Colone had been with her son the day before, but he didn’t know where Turner was that day, Crone said.
“After I talked to Kahlil, I knew that something worse had happened,” Morris said at the courthouse on Sunday. “It was in my gut, I knew it.”
Two days after the shooting, Morris was standing in a Chicago police station about 11:30 p.m. when she got a text that confirmed her fear — an anonymous woman told Morris that she could find her son’s body in the field near the park.
Morris informed police, who searched the area and found the two bodies just before midnight, Crone said.
Police shot-detecting technology confirmed that shots had been fired at that location at the time witnesses claimed the boys were at the park, Crone said.
The medical examiner’s office found that both boys were shot three times — Turner twice in his back and once in his abdomen, and Flowers in the back of his head, his left shoulder and his right cheek. Both of their deaths were ruled homicides.
On Friday, more than three months after the shooting, Colone and Ward were identified in photo arrays as suspects in the slayings. They had previously been questioned about the deaths but were released without charges.
Colone and Ward both had juvenile records, including an aggravated robbery case for Ward and a recent gun case for Colone, who was on probation at the time of the shooting, prosecutors said. Both teens are high school students, and Ward has a 2-year-old daughter, according to his attorney.
After she heard the details of her son’s death on Sunday, an inconsolable Morris said she was relieved to know the boys accused of killing Turner were going to be held in jail.
“But I also feel completely disgusted that two young men had to lose their lives and two young men had to end their lives,” Morris said. “All four mothers are losing sons.”
Ward and Colone are due back in court on Monday.