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Dad: Jonylah ‘was crying when they were shooting’; no bond for accused in killing

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Updated: June 30, 2013 6:34AM



Six-month old Jonylah Watkins began crying when she heard the gunfire that would claim her life.

“She was crying when they were shooting,” her father, Jonathan Watkins said at a news conference Tuesday. “I crawled out the car with her on my chest, and she was looking at me eye to eye.”

The theft of drugs and a video game console led to a revenge shooting in which a bullet intended for her father tore through the infant’s body, Cook County prosecutors alleged Tuesday.

Koman Willis was charged in the March 11 murder and ordered held without bond at a court hearing Tuesday.

Assistant State’s Attorney Heather Kent said Willis, a convicted felon, vowed to “shoot the people responsible” for the burglary at his mother’s home a month before Jonylah was killed.

At the news conference after the bond hearing, Watkins, 29, refused to say whether he was involved in the burglary of a Sony PlayStation and narcotics that, according to prosecutors, led Willis to open fire on Watkins as he changed Jonylah’s diaper in the front seat of a minivan in the 6500 block of South Maryland.

When asked if the right man had been charged with the murder, Watkins nodded yes, but would not say whether her saw the shooter’s face.

“I don’t know the guy,” he said, as he stood beside Pastor Corey Brooks of New Beginnings Church of Chicago, who’s acting as a family spokesman. A source said Willis and Watkins knew each other from the neighborhood.

Details will come out at trial, Brooks said.

Before and after the deadly shooting, Willis was captured on surveillance cameras traveling in the vicinity of the crime in his girlfriend’s Chrylser Town and Country, the same vehicle witnesses saw a man run into after they heard gunshots, Kent said. Cellphone records also indicate that Willis was in the area, Kent said.

Willis — who is 32 according to court records and 33 according to the police — allegedly made phone calls asking others to remove the car’s license plates and hide the vehicle in a garage.

Willis, of the 7800 block of South St. Lawrence, also admitted to someone that after spotting Watkins, he went to get his weapon and followed him before opening fire, Kent said.

The fatal bullet entered Jonylah’s left armpit and traveled through her torso. Watkins survived three gunshot wounds.

During Willis’ bond hearing Tuesday, attorney Robert Fisher said he needed more time to present mitigation in Willis’ defense, so Judge Israel Desierto ordered Willis temporarily held without bond until a June 6 hearing.

Willis has five previous felony convictions, including aggravated assault to a police officer.

“He is presumed innocent and he is maintaining his innocence,” Fisher said after the hearing.

Watkins, who stated that he had left the gang life about 10 years ago, said his daughter’s death changed his life.

“I’m working now. I’m not standing on the corners no more. I go to church now. I am just a whole different person . . . cause I know she’s up there and looking down on me.”



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