Joliet murder trial sparks brawl outside courthouse
BY JANET LUNDQUIST firstname.lastname@example.org September 24, 2013 4:44PM
Updated: October 26, 2013 6:32AM
In the hours after her brother and cousin were shot to death, Addie Lanier looked at a photo lineup from Joliet police, and stabbed one mug shot with a pen, she said.
“I told (police) to find him,” she testified in Will County court Tuesday, calling the defendant, Sjolante Crowder, by his nickname, “Mook Jilla.”
Lanier witnessed a shooting in October that prosecutors say was gang-related and carried out by Crowder, 19.
The shooting left DeLasse Lanier, 18, and Adrian Knox, 17, dead. Another man was wounded.
Testimony in Crowder’s murder trial began Tuesday in Will County.
Tension over the case spilled out of the courthouse about noon, when Joliet police broke up a fight outside the building among a group of about 100 people who were on opposite sides of the case.
Court personnel on Tuesday afternoon prevented anyone from entering or leaving the courtroom while witnesses were testifying, so as to prevent disruptions or attempts at intimidation. Police officers remained outside the courthouse to head off any conflicts.
Prosecutors believe Crowder was motivated by a gang conflict.
Lanier and Knox may not have been members of the Vice Lords, police said, but they had a lot of friends and associates who were members. Crowder had told police he was a Gangster Disciple, according to the file in his murder case.
A witness told police that, the night they were killed, Lanier and Knox were in the rival gang’s territory, according to court documents.
About 6:45 p.m. Oct. 23, several people, including Addie Lanier, were gathered around a Jeep Cherokee parked in the 700 block of Second Avenue when they saw a vehicle drive slowly by them, according to court records.
They indicated that soon after the vehicle passed, a man wearing a hooded sweatshirt walked up and started shooting.
As the group scattered, Knox collapsed in a driveway on the other side of the street, and Lanier ran inside a house on the block and collapsed, police said.
Lanier and Knox were taken to Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox, where Lanier was pronounced dead in the emergency room at 7:27 p.m. and Knox died 20 minutes later. The other 19-year-old man who was shot drove himself to Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, where he was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
Police arrested Crowder the next day in the 200 block of Richards Street. He is being held in the Will County jail in lieu of $7 million bail.
The trial is scheduled to continue Wednesday.