KANKAKEE — Dequan M. Morris will spend the rest of his life in prison for shooting and killing Kevin L. Wright Jr. in October 2017.
The 25-year-old Morris, of Kankakee, learned his fate during his sentence hearing in front of Judge Kathy Bradshaw-Elliott on Thursday. In February, Morris agreed to plead guilty.
Elliott said it was a “violent, senseless crime.”
Police believed the shooting was in retaliation for an earlier incident in 2017.
“It’s over when it’s over. And today it’s over,” Wright’s mother, Renee Davis, said after the 90-minute hearing.
Davis was one of seven family members to make an impact statement prior to Morris being sentenced.
“I’m asking the judge for the maximum sentence of life in prison without parole for you, the defendant,” Davis read from her statement “... Kevin isn’t here anymore to ask for this sentence, so I, his mother, am. Me and my family have been to every court hearing since day one and will be at anything else that comes up for review for you. What did Kevin do to lose his life in the violent nature that you did to him?”
Prosecutors played video surveillance from the scene of the shooting that showed Morris came up on Wright, Antwan Lawrence and Debraun Mayo in the back of an apartment complex in the 700 block of North Greenwood Avenue at 4 p.m. on Oct. 17, 2017.
A fourth person, Brian Williams, also fled the scene.
It showed Morris shoot Lawrence and continued shooting as Wright fled. Wright was struck in the left arm and head.
He died on Oct. 19.
Lawrence was struck in the stomach and was hospitalized for a month.
Lawrence testified Thursday he was childhood friends with Wright. They hung out every day.
“He was my little brother,” he said.
Kankakee County State’s Attorney Jim Rowe asked Lawrence how much he missed Wright.
“I wish he was here, or I was with him. Either way,” Lawrence said.
Rowe argued it is tough to ask for life when it is a young defendant, but in some cases, that is justice.
“I ask the court to give him life,” he said.
In his statement, Morris said he pleaded guilty to save Wright’s family from going through a trial that would cause them more pain.
“I need to pay for my mistakes,” he said.
His attorney, Anthony K. Tomkiewicz, of Joliet, argued that Morris should receive a 45-year sentence.
Quoting from Center for Disease Control and Prevention statistics, Tomkiewicz said the average age for African-American men is 72.2 years.
“Any sentence is a life sentence whatever the sentence your Honor imposes,” Tomkiewicz said.