Crusader Staff Report
Judge Thaddeus Wilson said he expects the Tyshawn Lee murder trial to last four weeks and end on October 11.
Wilson said this earlier this week as the trial is well underway at the Leighton Criminal Courts building, where Dwright Doty and Corey Morgan are charged with first degree murder in the death of Lee. Two weeks ago, Kevin Edwards pled guilty to being the driver who helped the two flee after they allegedly carried out a scheme that led to Lee’s brutal death.
Edwards will serve 100 percent of a 25-year prison term handed down by a Cook County judge. He will be given credit for the three years he has been locked-up in Cook County Jail. He could have faced the possibility of life in prison. It is not known if he will testify against other suspects in the case.
For Lee’s relatives, it was one down and two to go. Some sat in the courtroom Tuesday, yards away from defendants Doty and Morgan, who were neatly dressed and clean-shaven as they sat before Judge Wilson. Although Doty and Morgan are being tried together, their fates will be decided by separate juries.
Emotions were rekindled as prosecutor Margaret Hillman in her opening statements gave the jurors a play-by-play account leading up to a brutal murder that shocked the city and the nation.
In her statement, Hillman said on a warm and sunny afternoon in November 2015, 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee was still in his school uniform when he told his grandmother he loved her and raced across the street to Dawes Park with his basketball.
Hillman said the men were armed and ready to lure the boy to his death in what was a revenge killing meant to settle a gang feud.
“This made Morgan mad,” Hillmann said. “He wasn’t just mad. He was in a murderous rage, saying he was going to kill grandmas, mammas, kids and whoever he could catch.”
Morgan and Edwards allegedly set out to find a Killa Ward member to avenge the death, Hillmann said.
“When they couldn’t find Pierre Stokes, they found his 9-year-old son Tyshawn, a fourth grader who had nothing to do with any of this gang nonsense,” Hillmann said.
In Dawes Park, Doty approached Tyshawn and talked to him and even played basketball to gain his trust, Hillmann said. He picked up the basketball and lured the boy to an alley as Morgan and Edwards watched from a black SUV, according to the prosecutor.
“Dwright Doty took out a .40-caliber handgun and he executed Tyshawn in broad daylight,” Hillmann told the jury.
An autopsy of Tyshawn’s body showed two perforating gunshot wounds, and part of his right thumb was lost as a defensive wound trying to block a gunshot, according to court papers. Tyshawn had a gunshot wound to the head, a bullet graze wound to his right upper back, and a superficial wound to the right forearm.
Initially, Wilson allowed Doty to represent himself without an attorney, but days before the start of the trial, Doty changed his mind and got Cook County Public Defender Brett Gallagher to represent him. On Tuesday Gallagher told the jurors that no one saw Doty killing the boy and suggested police named her client as a suspect because the city was under pressure to arrest someone and make an arrest in the high-profile case.
“Ladies and gentleman, Mr. Doty is not guilty. He’s not responsible for the death of Tyshawn Lee,” she said.
Gallagher also urged the jury to question the evidence in the case. He noted that anything Doty said about the murder while in jail was not true.
“Within those walls, Mr. Doty was alone. No friends, no family, no freedom to leave,” she said, adding that his jailhouse confessions were only an attempt to be seen as “bigger, and badder and more ruthless than he actually was.”
Morgan’s attorney, Thomas Breen, suggested to the jury that Doty acted on his own when he killed Tyshawn.
“The execution — and it is an execution of that 9-year-old boy — has to come from one singularly evil person not from a plan,” he said. “His killer did so of his own volition and for his own reason, not at the behest or help of Corey Morgan. To think that there’s evil out there like this is frightening.”