A jury on Friday announced a guilty verdict for the man accused of planning the brutal murder of 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee, who was lured into a Chicago alley and shot execution-style amid what authorities believe was a gang war.
After hours of deliberations, jurors found Corey Morgan guilty on all counts, including discharge of a firearm and murder of someone under the age of 12.
Morgan was involved in a double-jury trial alongside alleged gunman Dwright Boone-Doty, who was found guilty around 8:40 p.m. Thursday.
“Even at a time when we’ve become nearly numb to headlines about violence, this case shook us to our core," Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx said in a statement. "We grieve for 9-year-old Tyshawn as we continue to hold close those who are laboring in his wake. 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. 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."
The double-jury trial means Boone-Doty and Morgan were tried together but before separate juries.
"If ever there has been a case with more than enough evil to spread around...it is this one," said Assistant State's Attorney Craig Engebretson.
During the 12-day trial, prosecutors presented evidence that the two gang members charged with first-degree murder plotted to kill 9-year-old Tyshawn in retaliation for a shooting that killed Morgan's brother and wounded his mother.
Tyshawn was playing basketball in November 2015 when prosecutors say he was lured away from a playground with a juice box, then shot at close range in an alley in broad daylight. His basketball was found just feet away.
Authorities allege Boone-Doty was the gunman and Morgan planned the killing of Tyshawn to retaliate against the fourth-grader's father.
A third man accused in the shooting, alleged getaway driver Kevin Edwards, pleaded guilty last month in exchange for a 25-year prison sentence.
"Tyshawn brought a basketball to Dawes Park...Corey Morgan, Dwright Doty and Kevin Edwards brought guns," Assistant State's Attorney Margaret Hillman said in her opening statement.
The prosecution rested its case Wednesday after showing jurors autopsy photographs of Tyshawn following his execution-style killing.
The autopsy photos included ones of the fatal shot to the boy’s head. And to remind jurors of the last helpless moments of Tyshawn’s life, prosecutors showed jurors photos of a bullet wound to the boy’s thumb, which they contend was struck when he tried to block the bullets.
Defense attorneys questioned the credibility of witnesses and evidence in the case, arguing the jury should put its sympathies and prejudice aside.
"Every bit of evidence the state would use to take this man’s freedom must be tested," Morgan's defense attorney Todd Pugh said.
The key evidence in the case may well be recordings made by a jailhouse snitch where Doty was heard bragging about the murder and making up a rap song about it.
But defense attorneys argued the audio was coerced.
"These are the kinds of cases where the burden of proof has to mean something," Pugh said.