The man accused in the shooting death of shooting Janay McFarlane denied all charges at his arraignment on Tuesday.
Jim McPherson, 21, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder through his attorney James Schwarzbach before Lake County Judge Christopher Stride.
He is accused of gunning down McFarlane, 18, in a North Chicago alley Feb. 15 in Lake County’s first murder of the year.
Several of McFarlane’s family members were present at McPherson’s arraignment.
"It was crazy, seeing a kid’s face but he did a man’s thing ... I’m just not ready to forgive him," McFarlane’s father, Joe Herb McFarlane, said.
McFarlane, of Beach Park, wore a T-shirt bearing his daughter’s photograph.
If convicted, McPherson, of Chicago, faces 45 to 85 years in prison, Stride said. First-degree murder is punishable 20 to 60 years in prison. However, the state is seeking an additional 25 year sentencing enhancement because McPherson is alleged to have "personally discharged the firearm causing Janay McFarlane’s death," Stride said.
Lake County State’s Attorney Mike Nerheim will prosecute the case personally.
"I think it’s important for the State’s Attorney to go to court when I have the ability to do so. When I can, I will try a case. I’ve always believed the best way to lead is by example," Nerheim said.
McPherson was inside John’s Liquor Store and Mini Mart when McFarlane and some friends walked into the store, Nerheim said. According to a witness, McPherson stared McFarlane down before she left the store to walk back to a friend’s home.
McPherson then left the store and got into a car his brother drove. His brother dropped him off at the intersection of 13th and Victoria Streets. Witnesses reported hearing shots in that vicinity, Nerheim said.
McFarlane died from a gunshot wound to the head in an alley in the 1300 block of Jackson Street in North Chicago, Nerheim said. Hours before McFarlane was shot, her sister Destini, 14, sat near President Obama when he spoke about gun violence plaguing the nation and Chicago.
McFarlane said he moved his family out of Englewood on his Janay McFarlane’s birthday, Dec. 24, in 2004 to escape the drunks, vacant lots and other unsavory aspects of Chicago. McFarlane is survived by a large family, including her 5-month-old son Jayden.
“It hurts that my baby is not here and my grandson doesn’t have a mother,” McFarlane’s mother Angela said. Angela’s mother Juanita Scaife was also present at the arraignment.
“It’s so sad because he’s so young. His life is gone. Her life is gone. I feel sorry for him ... being mad at him is not going to bring Janay back,” Scaife said.
McPherson is in custody at Lake County Jail in lieu of $3 million bond. He is due back in court April 17 and is due for trial May 31.