Judge allows gang evidence at teen murder suspect’s trial
By Janet Lundquist email@example.com September 11, 2013 12:04PM
Updated: October 15, 2013 6:39AM
A Will County judge said Wednesday she will allow information about an accused killer’s gang ties at his trial, scheduled later this month.
Sjolante Q. Crowder, 18, faces two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.
Police say Crowder shot and killed Adrian Knox, 17, and DeLasse Lanier, 18, on Oct. 23 and tried to kill a 19-year-old man who survived a gunshot wound.
Prosecutors had asked Judge Amy Bertani-Tomczak to allow testimony from a Joliet police sergeant who is a street gang expert and who believes the shootings were motivated by a local gang war.
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 Crowder’s murder case.
Crowder’s case is scheduled to go to trial on his 19th birthday, Sept. 23.
About 7 p.m. Oct. 23, several people 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 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 Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, where he was treated for non-life- threatening wounds.
Police arrested Crowder the next day in the 200 block of Richards Street. He is being held in the county jail in lieu of $7 million bail.
A day after his arrest, Crowder told a judge he didn’t do anything wrong and didn’t know anything about the killings.
A witness to the shooting told police that Crowder belonged to an East Side gang, and Lanier and Knox were from the Forest Park neighborhood known as “the Hill,” court records show. The gangs often clash, the witness said, adding “the Hill” guys should not have been down on the “South End,” according to the case file.