KANKAKEE — Dannie L. Kendrick Jr. was found guilty of robbing, shooting and killing Joseph “Joe Buck” Buckner III in November 2011.
On Tuesday, the 27-year-old Kendrick showed no emotion as Judge Kathy Bradshaw-Elliott read the verdict on the charges of armed robbery and first-degree murder. He will be sentenced on July 29. Kendrick is facing 45 years to life in prison.
“I feel good. Justice was served,” Buckner’s widow, Tiffany Buckner, said after the verdict. She was flanked by the couple’s three daughters: Janae, Jayla and Jordan.
“It’s been a long eight years, but justice was served today,” Janae said.
Buckner was the owner of A Kut Above barber shop and was well-known in the community.
“(Joe) still has an impact in this community. Joe got justice today,” Buckner’s brother, Develle Moore, said.
Joseph Buckner’s sister, Edna Washington, of Rockford, attended the trial last week. Her birthday was the day before her older brother was killed.
“I never healed after my brother was killed. I learned to live with a broken heart,” Washington said in a text message.
“Being there for the trial shattered my heart into more pieces. Although I can not get my So-So back, I think Dannie getting found guilty will help me mend my heart a little.”
Joseph Buckner was 32 when he was shot four times in front of his home in the 600 block of South Lincoln Avenue on Nov. 25, 2011.
Dannie Kendrick and his cousin, Ricky J. Kendrick Jr., were both charged in the case.
Ricky Kendrick testified last week they originally were in the neighborhood to break into a home but the plan changed. Ricky Kendrick had known Buckner most of his life.
Ricky Kendrick, 27, is serving a 15-year sentence after he pleaded guilty to armed robbery with a dangerous weapon in August 2014. He originally was charged with murder.
“This has been a long time in coming,” Kankakee State’s Attorney Jim Rowe said. “It took eight years to get justice.
“The key to the case was quality police work in gathering evidence that corroborated the confession.”
Rowe and First Assistant State’s Attorney Joe Kosman prosecuted Kendrick.
Kankakee attorney Dawn Landwehr and assistant public defender Benjamin Lawson represented Kendrick. They said they would file motions, including one for a new trial. It was the first time that a false-confession defense was used in a case in the county.
“We still maintain our client’s confession was forced and he is not responsible for the death of Joe Buckner,” Landwehr said.
Last Friday, Landwehr called Dr. Melissa Russano, a professor at Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I. Russano is an experimental psychologist with an expertise in the field of interrogation techniques.
Russano was used to help jurors understand such techniques. While she viewed the interviews of Dannie Kendrick, she was not allowed to offer an opinion on the interview or techniques used by investigators.
“The jurors found that she was an extremely good expert,” Lawson said.