Rapper ‘Lil Shawn’ on trial: fianceé of murder victim says she did not ID killer
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A woman who had been standing beside her three children when their father was gunned down in front of the couple’s West Rogers Park home testified Friday that a detective told her to pick budding Chicago drill rapper Shawn “Lil Shawn” Randall out of a photo lineup.
Randall, 22, was charged with the murder of 22-year-old Vallan Francis after being identified by Francis’ finaceé, Keisha Leflore. But more than two years later, Leflore emerged as a reluctant witness, returning to Chicago only after ordered to do so by a judge in her new home state, Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Holly Kremin noted.
On the witness stand Friday at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse, Leflore recanted her 2015 grand jury testimony, and said she told detectives at the time that she couldn’t identify the shooter and that a detective pointed out Randall as the killer in a photo array.
“I was actually showed a photo line-up and one of the officers pointed him out,” said Leflore, speaking softly as she slumped in her seat, wearing a heavy winter coat for the duration of hear nearly two hours of testimony.
“I told them my kids’ father may have said (Randall’s) name. I felt like from that, they just took advantage of me.”
Much of Leflore’s time on the witness stand was spent listening to Kremin read a transcript of Leflore’s grand jury statement and play back a video taped interview with detectives in which Leflore identified “Lil Shawn” as the shooter.
Leflore, who wiped tears from her eyes as she exited the courtroom, was the prosecutors’ sole eyewitness to the shooting.
Francis and Randall were members of rival gang factions, and Francis grew concerned as he and Leflore saw him pedaling past them as they sat on the porch of their home in the 2800 block of West Arthur on July 17, 2015, prosecutors said. The couple were moving their children, then ages 3, 4 and 7, into the house, and Francis was retrieving his daughter’s bicycle when a gunman –– his face mostly concealed by the cinched-up hood of a black sweatshirt –– came around the corner and opened fire.
Prosecutors said that another witness spotted the gunman fleeing down a nearby alley after the shooting. Leflore, on Friday, testified that she knew Randall –– one of her 5,000 Facebook friends. She also had seen him around the neighborhood in the months before the shooting.
Chicago police Det. Adam Katz testified that he showed Leflore an array of six suspects’ photographs the day of the shooting, and Leflore immediately picked out Randall.
“I believe she pointed to (Randall) before she even had the pictures directly in front of her,” Katz said. Asked if Leflore was told which photo was Randall, Katz said no.
The shooting happened just months after Randall had uploaded a music video for a tune titled “Shooters,” featuring him and rapper Shaquon “Young Pappy” Thomas. Thomas, 22, was gunned down a week later.
Randall’s trial is set to resume Monday.