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Stolen Playstation Allegedly Led To 6-Month-Old Chicago Infant's Murder

By Chuck Sudo in News on May 28, 2013 1:30PM

Koman Willis (Chicago Police Department mugshot)

Charges have been filed against a 33-year-old man in the March shooting death of Jonylah Watkins, the 6-month-old Chicago girl whose death made national headlines, highlighted the problems police face with “no-snitching” in neighborhoods beset by crime, and cast another black eye on the city’s struggle with gun violence.

Koman Willis turned himself into police Saturday afternoon. He’s charged with first degree murder in the March 11 shooting death of Jonylah and aggravated assault with a firearm. Police suspect Willis’s intended target was Jonylah’s father, Jonathan Watkins, over a stolen video game console he allegedly stole from the home of Willis's mother. Willis is believed to have opened fire on a van where Jonathan Watkins was changing his daughter. Jonathan Watkins was shot three times. Jonylah was shot five times in the lungs, liver, bowel, leg and shoulder.

Willis has an extensive criminal record, having been arrested more than three dozen times since 1996, mostly on drug offenses. The Sun-Times notes Willis was sentenced to three years in prison stemming from a 2002 incident where he fled police who stopped him for a traffic violation and wound up causing a crash that injured two people.

At a Monday news conference, Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said Willis was a suspect almost from the beginning of the investigation. Lt. Kevin Duffin, who led the investigation, said his team was “able to identify witnesses last week that we had not identified earlier in the investigation; they provided some key information that started the ball rolling.” Duffin also led the investigation into the January murder of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton.

Much of the investigation involved cooperation from Jonathan Watkins who, according to ABC 7, was in near-daily cooperation with police. The Rev. Corey Brooks, who has been mentoring and acting as a spokesman for Jonathan Watkins and Jonylah’ mother, Judy, in the wake of the shooting, said they’re grateful charges have been filed. “Hopefully they will be able to put this part behind them and move forward.” McCarthy offered a tepid endorsement of Watkins’s cooperation.

"There was a lot of interviewing that went on with Jonathan's family," McCarthy said. "Some of it was helpful and some of it wasn't."

Willis has not given an official statement to police, and neither the gun nor the getaway van has been found. But McCarthy believes the case is strong. "The question was whether or not we could show it in a court of law." Jonathan Watkins will not face charges in the burglary.


Baby Girl Dies After Being Shot 5 Times

Person of Interest Questioned in Murder of 6-Month-Old Jonylah Watkins