The grief-stricken mothers of two Joliet teens slain on Second Avenue this fall lashed out at the young man charged with gunning them down.
"As long as I know you murdered my son I'm going to keep smirking, bitch," Andrea Knox shouted at 18-year-old Sjolante Crowder during a Friday morning court hearing.
Crowder was chained at his wrists and ankles and sitting in the courtroom jury box for the until-then uneventful hearing in front of Judge Amy Bertani-Tomczak. Crowder faces murder charges for allegedly shooting down both Knox's son, Adrian Knox, 17, and Knox's best friend, Delasse Lanier, 18, in October.
Crowder crept up on the two teens from behind and shot them in the back, police said. A third man took a bullet in the gun attack but survived. The three were in a crowd hanging out in Second Avenue.
Andrea Knox said that not only was her son best friends with Lanier, but that she is best friends with Lanier's mother, Andrea Brooks. Andrea Knox, Brooks, and Adrian Knox's Godmother, Monique McCullum, all attended Crowder's hearing. The three women said one of Crowder's relatives and Crowder himself taunted them.
"Why are you smiling?" Andrea Knox said she wanted to ask Crowder. "You killed my son."
Judge Bertani-Tomczak had sheriff's deputies head Andrea Knox off at the fourth-floor elevator and bring her back into the courtroom. The judge told her not to shout at Crowder again.
"Before you came on this bench he said something to me," Andrea Knox told Bertani-Tomczak. The judge advised her not to look at Crowder anymore.
After the hearing, both mothers said they have struggled since their sons were killed.
"My baby, good kid, straight-A student, basketball player," Andrea Knox said of her son, who was a senior at Joliet Central High School.
"It's so hard when you get all these graduation announcements in the mail," Andrea Knox said.
"It's really hard when you hear people say your son is a known gang member," she added.
"I have two older sons who were known gang members but he was not," she said, telling how people described her youngest son as "Adrian, the good one, the quiet boy. That's what everybody called him—the quiet boy."
Even if Crowder is convicted and goes to prison for the rest of his life, his family has it better than she does, Andrea Knox said.
"I lost my child," she said. "They get to see their child again, whether it's behind glass or whatever.
"All I got is memories and pictures," Andrea Knox said. "That's all I got."