In March, Jonathan Watkins was changing his six month old daughter’s diaper in the back of his minivan on a busy Chicago street, when a man rushed up and shot both of them. The six year old, Jonylah died of her gunshot wounds the next day. Her father was seriously injured, but survived. Monday, police made an arrest in the murder case.
Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy announced that Koman Willis has been charged with first degree murder, and aggravated assault. Willis is a thirty three year old gang member who has been arrested thirty eight times.
Although both Watkins and Willis have ties to gangs, there is no belief that the crime was gang related. Police believe the motive for the shooting on March 11th, was revenge for the alleged theft of a video game system by Watkins.
Willis, escorted by his attorney, turned himself in. He was aware that police were looking for him in connection to the child’s murder.
A few of Willis’ prior arrests include a conviction for aggravated assault of a police officer from a 2002 incident in which he was sentenced to three years in the Illinois Department of Corrections, a 2007 conviction for drugs for which he was sentenced to one year in prison, and a conviction for a 2005 drug charge for which he received a year in prison. He also was convicted on a 1998 weapons charge for which he received probation, according to court records.
Willis did not say why he believed Watkins had stolen the video game, and there are no plans to charge Jonylah’s father for the theft.
Witnesses that came forward last week led the authorities to confirm Willis was the perpetrator. He was under suspicion for a long time. They are searching for the getaway van and weapon.
Jonylah’s murder highlighted the escalation in Chicago’s gun violence.
Pastor Corey Brooks said at a Sunday press conference that Jonylah’s parents have long hoped for justice for their daughter.
“Every single day we are hopeful and thankful, you know, that it is going to happen,” Brooks said, according to ABC. “We are hoping that it will be in the next 24 hours.”
Jonylah’s parents did not attend the news conference.
“The family spent the day at the grave site,” Corey Brooks, pastor of the New Beginnings Church of Chicago, said, adding he called the family when he learned that Willis had being charged.
“They are very grateful and thankful. Hopefully they will be able to put this part behind them and go forward.”
The Guardian Express