Updated at 4:04 p.m. Oct. 4
Cook County jurors Friday afternoon convicted a third defendant of first-degree murder in the execution-style killing of 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee.
The verdict against Corey Morgan, 31, came after about 10 hours of deliberation.
Prosecutors had argued that Morgan helped plan the killing and looked on as Dwright Doty, 25, lured the boy from a park into an alley and shot him multiple times at close range.
On Thursday night, a jury convicted Doty after deliberating for less than three hours. Two weeks before the trial, getaway driver Kevin Edwards, 26, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in exchange for a 25-year-sentence.
Throughout the nearly three-week-long trial, attorneys for Morgan and Doty accused the other of the killing. Morgan’s team said Doty acted alone while Doty’s team pointed out that Morgan was the one who had a motive — an alleged thirst for revenge after a rival gang killed Morgan’s brother and injured his mother.
In the closing arguments of Morgan’s case Thursday, Assistant State’s Attorney Craig Engebretson pointed out that Tyshawn’s father was suspected in the shooting that killed Morgan’s brother.
The 9-year-old was “picked, targeted, lured and killed,” Engebretson said. “Who in this world has a bigger motive to make sure that this happens to Tyshawn Lee?”
“Tyshawn Lee’s life is over,” Engebretson told the jurors. “And although that life may be over, this story isn’t. There is an ending yet to be written. It is an ending you get to write. There can never be a happy ending for Tyshawn Lee but it can be a just one. It is a verdict that holds his killers responsible. A verdict guided by law, driven by overwhelming evidence.”
But Todd Pugh, an attorney for Morgan, delved into photo arrays and live lineups that police arranged for witnesses to identify the defendant. He said the officers broke various CPD rules, including one that requires placing a suspect’s mugshot in different positions when arrays are shown multiple times.
Pugh said the officers “were trying to shoehorn the evidence a little bit in a certain direction.”
“I don’t blame them entirely,” he added. “This was a horrific crime and they wanted to solve it.”
Assistant State’s Attorney Patrick Waller countered that the trial was “not a referendum on the police investigation.”
“The question,” Waller said, is whether Morgan is “responsible for the murder of that 9-year-old.”
After the jury returned with Morgan’s guilty verdict, State’s Attorney Kim Foxx hailed the outcome.
“As a mother and prosecutor, I think often about Tyshawn’s 4th grade classmates who returned to school and sat beside an empty desk following this egregious murder and will be graduating 8th grade without their friend on stage later this school year,” Foxx said in a statement. “The trauma is far-reaching and impacts us all, collectively.
“We are pleased with the outcome of this case, knowing that the individuals responsible for this heinous, retaliatory attack on a young boy are being held accountable.”