CHICAGO -- Derrick Lemon, who as a young boy watched as his little brother was dropped to his death from a public housing high-rise in one of Chicago's most horrific crimes, was sentenced Monday for a fatal shooting to a combined 71 years in prison, effectively a life sentence.
Cook County Judge Thomas Hennelly cited the searing experience Lemon suffered nearly two decades ago but said it didn't give him "carte blanche to act like a bully and a brute."
"You killed Illya Glover the way someone would just swat an insect, without any recourse, without any thought whatsoever," the judge said moments before sentencing him to 46 years for first-degree murder and a mandatory consecutive 25-year prison term for a weapons offense. Lemon will serve 100 percent of the sentence, prosecutors said.
A Criminal Court jury convicted Lemon, 24, in July of the 2006 murder of Glover, 41, who was dating an aunt of Lemon's. During a barbecue, a quarrel with the aunt turned physical, and when Glover came to his girlfriend's aid, Lemon shot him to death, prosecutors said.
Glover's sister, Gail, 44, rejoiced at the long prison sentence, saying her brother, who was a father of five, "had a rebirth today."
"He should have made a positive out of the negative," Gail Glover, 44, said of Lemon. "Instead he made a negative out of a negative."
At a previous court hearing, Lemon's lawyer, Wayne Brucar, had pleaded for leniency, saying "society had forgotten" Lemon after the tragedy, but the judge disputed that characterization on Monday.
"People experience tragedy in this building every day, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and they go on with their lives," Hennelly said. "It doesn't give someone carte blanche to act like a bully and a brute and act like he's above the law."
Lemon was just 8 in 1994 when two boys dangled his brother, Eric Morse, 5, out the 14th-floor window at the Ida B. Wells public housing development. Lemon tried to save him, but one of the boys bit him on the hand, authorities said. Lemon said he ran down the stairs in the hope that he could catch his brother before he hit the ground.
Prosecutors said Eric had refused to steal candy for Jessie Rankins, then 10, and Tykeece Johnson, 11, both of whom were convicted of the notorious murder and became the state's youngest inmates.
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