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Funeral plans set for Jonylah; dad cooperating with police

Updated: April 15, 2013 11:10AM

Judy Watkins cried silently Wednesday night as she identified the bullet-torn body of her 6-month-old daughter, Jonylah, a painful but necessary formality in order to proceed with funeral arrangements for the child whose killing shocked the city earlier this week.

Watkins, 20, viewed her baby’s body through a closed-circuit television feed at the Cook County medical examiner’s office, according to the Rev. Corey Brooks, who’s acting as a Watkins family spokesman.

“She stood there for about 30 seconds or a minute,” he said. “But I could tell she would have stayed there all day. I told them that was enough.”

Jonylah’s funeral was set for 11 a.m. Tuesday at Brooks’ New Beginnings Church, 6620 S. King Dr. A wake will precede the service at 10 a.m.

Jonylah’s father, Jonathan Watkins, 29, who was wounded by the same gunman who killed his daughter, is cooperating with police from his hospital bed, but he doesn’t know who shot him, Brooks said.

“He is giving them the information that they are asking for,” Brooks said. “If he knew who shot him, trust me, they would be arrested by now.”

Jonathan Watkins was recovering at Northwestern Memorial Hospital on Wednesday.

On Monday afternoon, Watkins was standing on the curb in the 6500 block of South Maryland, changing his daughter’s diaper on the front passenger seat of a minivan, when a gunman came from a gangway behind him and opened fire. Watkins was shot three times, in the back, side and cheek. A bullet entered Jonylah’s shoulder and exited her lower body. She survived emergency surgery but died Tuesday morning.

“We’ve buried young kids caught in gang crossfire before, but never this young,” said Spencer Leak Sr., director of Leak and Sons Funeral Home. Leak, who is donating his services for the funeral, planned to place a special order for a three-foot casket first thing Thursday morning. Leak could not confirm reports that Chicago Bull Derrick Rose planned on covering part of the burial cost. Calls to Rose’s representatives were not returned Wednesday.

A police source said Jonathan Watkins may have been targeted in retaliation for alleged links to an earlier robbery and shooting. Detectives have scoured the Woodlawn neighborhood, but few helpful leads have emerged. On Tuesday, Supt. Garry McCarthy told reporters no one had stepped up to help in the investigation.

Police sources say Watkins, 29, is a gang member who has been arrested 30 times, including once in 2007 for illegal possession of a 9mm handgun, which he told police he was carrying for protection, court records show. He received a three-year prison sentence.

Brooks defended Jonathan Watkins on Wednesday.

“He hasn’t been in any trouble since 2007,” he said. “Here’s a young man who — unlike most of the young men in our neighborhoods who are making babies and not taking responsibility for them — this man did totally the opposite: He not only took responsibility for his baby, but he also married the baby’s mother.”

Jonathan Watkins recently married Judy, who works at a McDonald’s restaurant. Jonylah was their only child. .

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