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Bond denied for 2 brothers in fatal shooting of pregnant teen

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Updated: January 31, 2014 6:23AM

Lailani Paris Casara was born Christmas Day.

And now she’s fighting for her life in an Oak Lawn hospital.

Her mother, 17-year-old Eva Casara, was found bleeding in the snow Wednesday night in the south suburbs. She was 26 weeks pregnant, and she died the next day after doctors delivered Lailani.

Lailani’s father, 16-year-old Anthony Lee, was refused bail Sunday, along with his brother, after prosecutors described the fatally botched robbery attempt in Dolton that ended with a bullet in the back of Eva Casara’s head. They’re both charged with Casara’s murder.

Against all the odds, Eva Casara’s aunt Melody Vargas said the tiny infant in critical condition at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn is determined to live. Lailani is taking on her mother’s features, Vargas said. And, hauntingly, she has her father’s eyes.

“We love that baby unconditionally,” Vargas said after a court hearing Sunday.

Vargas and several members of Casara’s family listened during that hearing as Cook County Judge James Brown refused bail for Lee and his brother, 21-year-old Diante Coakley. A third brother is also wanted in connection with Casara’s murder.

“We’ll get him,” Dolton Police Chief John Franklin told Casara’s mother outside the courtroom.

Assistant State’s Attorney Christina Kye said Casara plotted with Lee, Coakley and the third brother to rob someone in Dolton on Christmas Day. Kye said Casara set out with the brothers when they left their grandmother’s house to commit the robbery at 152nd and Dorchester, where Casara made arrangements to meet their intended victim.

When they arrived, Kye said, Coakley and Casara got into a car with the intended victim, who had another passenger in the car. Lee and his other brother stood outside.

Eventually the intended robbery victim told Coakley to get out of the car, Kye said. He did so and walked around to try to open the driver’s side door, but the intended robbery victim drove away.

Kye said Coakley began shooting at the car even though Casara was still in the back seat. She said one other person fired shots, but it wasn’t clear who the second triggerman was. It’s believed Coakley fired the fatal shot.

Kye said the intended robbery victim only realized Casara was still in the car when he and his passenger heard gurgling sounds from the back seat. She said they dumped Casara’s body at 1104 E. 152nd Street and drove to Hammond, Ind. Lee, Coakley and their brother, meanwhile, went back to their grandmother’s house and then to Gary, Ind., when they couldn’t find Casara.

A passerby discovered the pregnant teenager in a pool of blood about 7:45 p.m. and called 911. She was taken to Advocate Christ and was pronounced dead shortly before 11 a.m. Dec. 26.

After she died, Vargas said, Casara’s family confronted Lee in a hospital waiting room.

“He was saying, ‘Uh, umm . . . the weed man killed her,’ ” Vargas said.

She also complained that hospital security staff let Lee and Coakley leave, contrary to instructions from Dolton police. A hospital spokesman said staff was given no notice by police and had no authority to detain them.

Lee and Coakley eventually turned themselves in to Dolton police, Kye said, and Lee admitted that he helped plan the robbery with his brothers and Casara.

They put that plan into action three days before Lee and Casara’s two-year anniversary, Casara’s family said. That anniversary passed Saturday, the day Lee was charged with Casara’s murder.

“She loved him,” Vargas said of her niece. “She was convinced that this boy loved her in return.”


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