Joliet murder victim’s mom erupts in court, judge warns her to stay quiet
By Janet Lundquist email@example.com January 25, 2013 12:58PM
Updated: February 28, 2013 6:47AM
A murder victim’s mother erupted in Will County court Friday morning during an appearance by her son’s alleged killer, saying she was fed up by the defendant’s smirks.
Andrea Knox, mother of 17-year-old Adrian Knox, who died from gunshot wounds on Oct. 23, shouted at Sjolante Crowder, 18, and called him a profanity before leaving Judge Amy Bertani-Tomczak’s courtroom at the bailiff‘s request.
She walked to the elevator with her best friend, Andrea Brooks, who is the mother of Crowder’s other alleged victim, 18-year-old Delasse Lanier, tears streaming down her face as she continued to talk about what she perceived as Crowder’s taunting.
Crowder’s sister apparently also needled the victim’s mothers, sitting behind them in the courtroom and whispering about the case.
“It’s taking everything in me not to just run up there and choke him,” Knox said.
The court bailiff and sheriff’s deputies walked her back into the courtroom, at Bertani-Tomczak’s request. The judge said she understood Knox was upset, but told her to keep quiet in the courtroom, or she would be held in contempt.
“He sits there smiling at me,” Knox said, turning to look at Crowder, who sat in the jury box. “It’s hard to be the better person when you’ve lost your 17-year-old baby.”
Police say Crowder shot and killed Knox and Lanier on Oct. 23 and that he tried to kill a 19-year-old man who suffered a gunshot wound.
Joliet police said that shortly before 7 p.m. that day, a group of 10 to 15 people were standing in front of a house in the 700 block of Second Avenue when a man in black clothing came up behind them and started shooting.
As the group scattered, Knox collapsed in a driveway on the other side of the street. Lanier ran inside a house on the block and collapsed.
Lanier and Knox were taken to Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox, where Lanier died in the emergency room at 7:27 p.m. and Knox died 20 minutes later.
The 19-year-old man who was shot drove himself to Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, where he was treated for non-life threatening injuries.
Police arrested Crowder Oct. 24 in the 200 block of Richards Street. He faces two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder, and is being held in the county jail in lieu of $7 million bail.
Deputies and the prosecutor for the case, Michael Fitzgerald, rode the elevator down with Knox and Brooks and spoke to them in the courthouse lobby.
Investigators say they believe the ambush may have been in retaliation for a fight between rival gangs that occurred earlier that day that involved women associated with the groups.
But Knox said Adrian was not in a gang.
“I have two older sons (who have gang affiliation),” Knox said, but not Adrian. “Adrian was the quiet boy.”
While Knox spoke, Brooks sat at a table in the lobby, sobbing and pounding her fist on the tabletop. The deputies and Fitzgerald stood nearby until the women left the courthouse.
The mothers vowed to attend every one of Crowder’s court appearances, and said their sons were best friends.
“I was thinking, ‘Why are you smiling? You killed my son,’” Knox said. “All I’ve got are memories and pictures. That’s it.”