Gangster Killer Gets 85 Years For Gunning Down Innocent Teen

Convicted killer Vernon McCormick pointed out that he never had the brother he always wanted.

With a prison sentence of no less than 45 years—and possibly life—looming, convicted killer Vernon McCormick looked at the bright side of things.

"If this had never happened, I would probably be dead, just because of life, just because of guilt by association," McCormick, his face heavily tattooed and his wrists and ankles shackled, said during a rambling monologue just before he was sentenced to 85 years in prison Wednesday.


McCormick killed 14-year-old Deont’e Lesley in January 2011. McCormick was out to avenge the slaying of a friend when he sprayed Lesley's house with bullets. Lesley was inside the house playing video games during the gun attack. He was killed and two other youths were wounded.

Lesley, a junior high school student, was not involved in the earlier murder or McCormick's gang feud.

A jury found McCormick guilty of murder, aggravated battery with a firearm and the aggravated discharge of a firearm in July. At his sentencing Wednesday, McCormick insisted he didn't kill Lesley.

"I'm sorry for y'all loss, but I still stand here innocent," McCormick told Lesley's family and friends. A young woman on McCormick's side of the courtroom then moaned, "He didn't do it," burst into tears and ran out to the hall.

Lesley's mother, Antoinette Walker, earlier in the hearing fled to the hallway and—overcome with emotion—was rushed to Provena St. Joseph Medical Center. After the sentencing, her family said they were heading to the hospital to see how she was faring.

But first they endured McCormick's bizarre, meandering statement. He began by telling the packed courtroom, "I don't know what to say. There's really not much to say." And then proceeded to say quite a bit.

McCormick suggested that "certain things in life happen for a reason," then noted there actually may not have been any reason for Lesley's death, or if there was a reason he didn't know what it might be.

McCormick then empathized with Lesley's mother, saying, "I feel her pain. I know what she is going through.

"He's gone. I'm sorry," McCormick said of Lesley. "I'm fixing to be gone too."

McCormick, who racked up a number of arrests in his young life, explained that his checkered past resulted from the absence of his father, Vernon McCormick Sr., who is also locked up at the Will County jail. The elder McCormick was arrested early Monday for allegedly breaking into a car in downtown Joliet.

"I grew up without a father," McCormick said. "A woman can't teach a boy to be a man, and that's why I turned to the streets."

Not to mention the brother his mother never gave him.

"I always wanted a brother," McCormick said. "I never had a brother."

But he did have neighbors, and one of them, Randolph "Ronald" Guy, made quite an impression on McCormick.

"Growing up on the east side of Joliet, Washington Street, I grew up seeing a lot of stuff I wasn't supposed to see," he said. "I seen the rims, I seen the cars."

And when Guy and his mother moved to Washington Street, McCormick said the new neighbor told him, "No matter what you do in life, don't follow in our footsteps, because the footsteps they doing will only lead to the grave or the penitentiary."

"A year later he was in the grave, and now I'm in the penitentiary," McCormick said of Guy, who was shot to death during a bloody, prolonged 2003 feud that police have said was fueled by a dispute over stolen car rims.

Will County Sheriff's Department Deputy Chief Ken Kaupas credited both detectives and prosecutors for their work on the case.

"They did a great job on this thing, they were very dedicated to this investigation," Kaupas said of the effort to unravel the Lesley killing, which he called a "heartless crime."

"There was a lot of circumstantial evidence in this case" that police and prosecutors had to piece together, Kaupas said.

Judge Amy Bertani-Tomczak was apparently unimpressed by McCormick's speech and sent him away for nearly double the minimum sentence. But McCormick maintained his positive outlook.

"Even though I'm up here crying, I'm going to stay strong," McCormick said, inviting his friends and family to visit him in prison.

"I'm at peace because it could be worse," he said. "Like I said, I'm alive. Can't complain."


John Roberts September 29, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Well I'll tell ya what take a sign and put it in your front yard and put on it you do not believe in guns and let us know what happens if your still alive.Criminals do not follow your laws.Laws are only there for after someone commits a crime.Laws prevent nothing...just like on Facebook people coming on and saying they do not believe in guns,while their page tells where they work,where they are at rig now,how many kids they have,pictures of their house,...while screaming out they do not have a way to protect themselves...people forget...ban the guns,take them all away,...guess what all you need is a metal lathe,a piece of wood and you have a gun like they used to make in shop class at Joliet Central high school when I went there..I shot I don't know how many of them homemade guns...and they work like a charm...and when you have no gun to protect yourself from a homemade gun.....it's your fault......guns are also to protect us from the dangers of Government,home or abroad...especially with all of this religious crap going on...People forget in times of war the citizens are bombed,killed,shot,raped,robbed, not the bases..it's not military against military it is governments against each other while governments Militaries bomb citizens...don't forget who you are...a citizen..
John Roberts September 29, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Let's say this guy came to your house..he's got a gun he was not supposed to have....where is your gun...oh yeah that's right you don't have one....you have to wait for the police who has a gun to defend you..or take samples of your murder scene...let's be realistic.....How do you keep the guns from criminals,raid em,shoot em,send them to prison,....yeah we been doing all that and it does not work...having something to shoot back with works. Better than all of the laws.
john October 01, 2012 at 09:52 PM
Free v Mac
Beth November 24, 2012 at 06:23 AM
First of all he's innocent! Who are y'all to judge? Y'all asses AIN'T God, last time I checked! Only the people from Joliet know he ain't do it. It kills me how the news, media, try to badger a person reputation and not knowing all the facts. Since all I'm reading is "he did it" & "he deserves this"... where is the evidence? I sat in every trial date and all it was, was bs. They had one witness and his sorry changed 3 times! No murder weapon, clothes, shoes ANYTHING! If he didn't have a fucking public defender (who gets paid by the state) he would have definitely won. I just feel so sorry for him and his family and the lost that they have to endure. & Never judge a book by it's cover.
Shantel August 18, 2013 at 11:15 PM
He is not an angel, believe the cover of the book.


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