Felony murder charges were dropped this week against five Chicago teenagers who were initially arrested after a 14-year-old who was with them during a burglary attempt was fatally shot by a homeowner.
The teens were arrested after an attempted carjacking in Lake County, Illinois on August 13, 2019. The 75-year-old homeowner told investigators that he equipped himself with a firearm, which he was legally allowed to possess, and went outside to confront them. Two of the individuals “quickly approached him,” one of whom was “holding something in his hand,” prompting the homeowner to fire his gun at least three times.
The youngest member of the group was struck by gunfire and pronounced dead after the teens reportedly fled the scene and dropped him off about three miles away near a Gurnee Police officer who was tending to an unrelated traffic stop, per MSN.com.
Charges were dropped against the group after Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim consulted with the defense attorneys and considered the wishes of the victim’s family. However, each of the offenders “will be held responsible and face appropriate sentences,” Nerheim said in a statement.
The oldest in the group, 18-year-old Diamond Davis, will be formally charged with felony conspiracy to commit burglary and misdemeanor criminal trespass to a motor vehicle.
The four other offenders, who are all 16 and 17 years old, will be tried in juvenile court, but details of their charges have not been announced “due to strict laws governing juvenile courtroom proceedings.”
Nerheim initially charged the teens with felony murder, which “does fit the crime committed,” but he decided to exercise “discretion in this situation,” as hopes the teens “will learn from this tragedy,” and “take this opportunity to be rehabilitated,” due to their young ages, he said.
“It is time for these offenders to understand the seriousness of their actions and face the consequences,” Nerheim said in the statement. “If they choose to continue to follow the troubled path they are currently on, it will end in only one of two ways – either with another tragic funeral or with more involvement with the criminal justice system.”