A Cook County judge on Thursday ordered a 19-year-old man accused of firing shots that killed a 7-year-old boy inside his West Side home held without bail shortly after prosecutors dropped murder charges against a second young man linked to the death.
Joseph Serrano, 19, of the West Garfield Park neighborhood, faces first-degree murder charges in the Oct. 26 slaying of Akeem Briscoe, whom authorities said was an unintended victim. A 16-year-old boy was charged as a juvenile with first-degree murder on Monday, police said.
Akeem was shot in the abdomen around 8:15 p.m. as he brushed his teeth before his bedtime inside his home in the 2600 block of West Potomac Avenue, according to Cook County prosecutors.
According to prosecutors, Serrano and the other two, which included a juvenile, had targeted a vehicle parked behind Akeem’s townhouse with four people inside. Those individuals were believed responsible for an earlier shooting involving a member of the Campbell Boys gang, with the new shooting serving as retaliation, Assistant State’s Attorney Michael Pekara told the court.
Serrano and one of his accomplices allegedly fired a combined 16 shots from separate .40-caliber handguns toward the vehicle but missed its occupants, Pekara said. One of the targets returned fire.
One of the bullets entered Akeem’s home through a window and struck him in the back, authorities said.
Video footage captured the three suspects traveling to the shooting scene and fleeing afterward, authorities said. A liquor store camera captured the offenders’ faces before the shooting, Pekara said.
Serrano, was a high school senior who worked part time and helped raise six siblings following his mother’s death from cancer last year, according to his private attorney John McNamara. The attorney asked the judge to deny prosecution’s request, pointing out that no one had identified Serrano as the gunman and the case was largely circumstantial.
Toward the end of the 25-minute hearing, Judge Barbara Lynette Dawkins noted the “exhaustive” investigation by law enforcement, which used multiple surveillance camera footage to trace the suspects and social media records received through a court order in approving the state’s request to deny bail. She also spoke about authorities’ “voluminous circumstantial evidence” against Serrano.
Prior to Serrano’s hearing, prosecutors dropped murder charges against an 18-year-old man linked to the same shooting without explanation. Court records showed that felony charges were approved by Chicago police chief of detectives Brendan Deenihan. On rare occasions, police officials have filed felony charges against a defendant without approval by the state’s attorney’s felony review unit.
A spokeswoman with Chicago police declined to comment on the dropped charges, deferring to the Cook County state’s attorney’s office. A state’s attorney representative wasn’t immediately available.
Serrano is scheduled to return to court next Friday.