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Two convicted of murdering 8-year-old girl in Roseland

A memorial memory TanajStokes 8. | File Phoby John W. Fountain

A memorial in memory of Tanaja Stokes, 8. | File Photo by John W. Fountain

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Updated: November 21, 2012 6:11AM



The little girls were jumping rope and practicing their cheerleading moves when the bullets whizzed by and pierced their heads.

Tanaja Stokes, 8, fell to the ground, and died in a pool of blood, her mother’s arms around her.

Tanaja’s younger cousin suffered a fractured skull but lived to tell the bloody tale inside a Cook County courtroom where the gunmen stood trial this week.

“I got shot,” Ariana Jones, now 9, told jurors Tuesday, recalling the deadly shooting prosecutors said continues to haunt her.

On Friday, a pair of young men witnesses said fired roughly 15 times in the Aug. 10, 2010 incident, were convicted of murder and aggravated battery with a firearm by two separate juries.

Tanaja’s mother said she felt a sense of relief knowing that Marcus Cocroft, 18, and Steshawn Brisco, 20, will be locked behind bars for a long time but said she missed her oldest daughter who loved to dance and give big bear hugs.

“It’s like I’m being stabbed in the heart,” Debra Thomas, 30, said. “It’s hard seeing other kids getting ready for school or looking at my other [three] kids.”

Ariana, Thomas’ sister’s daughter, still suffers from panic attacks and takes Prozac to help her deal with her post-traumatic stress. She barely goes to school and is afraid to play outside, her mother said.

“She acts like she don’t care about anything,” said Alice Thomas, 28.

Authorities say the girls weren’t the intended targets.

Cocroft and Brisco were a “kill team” when they rode by on their bicycles brandishing their weapons to get even in an ongoing feud between two factions in the neighborhood, assistant state’s attorney Eric Leafblad said in his closing arguments.

The two even “bragged” about the “airing out of the D block” and even dismissed others when they were told they could have struck some children when they aimed at their targets, at 107th and Indiana, prosecutors Thomas Darman and Lisa Longo said.

“I don’t care. We let the whole 40 clip go,” Brisco allegedly said.

“We just killed one of them. I know we hit something.”

Earlier this week, a witness testifying for the prosecution team was injured in a shooting after he took the stand.

And earlier Friday, four men attending the double jury trial were admonished by Judge Stanley Sacks for arguing with others outside the courtroom.

Cocroft and Brisco face up to 105 years when they are sentenced.



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