CHICAGO – A 12-year-old boy has been charged with the juvenile equivalent of first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of a 26-year-old man at a sidewalk dice game.
The boy, whose name was not being released because of his age, was being held at a Cook County juvenile facility, said John Gorman, a spokesman for the Cook County State's Attorney's office. A hearing is set for Monday to determine if the boy will stay in custody or be released to his parents, Gorman said.
Witnesses told police the boy had been watching a teenage cousin shooting dice with several other players on the city's far South Side on Nov. 13. They said Deon McGary, 26, of suburban Hazel Crest, was also watching the game and traded insults with the boy's cousin.
Witnesses said that when the quarrel turned physical, the boy pulled out a handgun and shot McGary four times, police said.
The boy and his cousin fled but turned themselves in several days later at the urging of the boy's parents, according to Michael Holtzman, an attorney for the cousin. Holtzman said the cousin was questioned and released, but the 12-year-old was held after witnesses identified him as the shooter.
"I guess he's reacting like any 12-year-old child would act -- he's scared, upset, confused," said the boy's attorney, Steven Fine. He said the boy had no prior contact with police.
Under Illinois law, a 12-year-old cannot be charged as an adult. Gorman said that if the boy is found guilty, he would face penalties ranging from probation to placement in a residential treatment facility until he is 21.