Charges filed after teen killed same day sister sat behind Obama

February 19, 2013 10:00:00 PM PST
Charges have been filed in the North Chicago murder of 18-year-old mother Janay McFarlane, who was shot and killed Friday.

Jim McPherson, 21, is charged in her death, which took place hours after President Barack Obama was in Chicago to give a gun violence speech. McFarlane's sister attended the speech.

McPherson is charged with murder, armed violence, unlawful use of a weapon and possession of a controlled substance.

McPherson appeared in Lake County bond court Wednesday. The judge set bond at $3 million.

Even as he continues to grieve his daughter's loss, Joe McFarlane says seeing the man accused of her murder in bond court did help.

"It hurts but if feels better to know he's caught so she can have some type of peace," McFarlane said.

Prosecutors say McPherson shot and killed 18-year old Chicago resident McFarlane as she and two others walked back to a friend's home from a nearby liquor store.

Prosecutors say McFarlane's friends saw the defendant staring at them inside the store. They also witnessed him getting into a car that prosecutors allege was driven by the defendant's brother.

"The defendant was ID'd by one of the people as the shooter," said Lake County State's Attorney Mike Nerheim. "He was then picked up immediately after by his brother and taken to another residence. When he was picked up he was blocks away from the shooting out of breath, telling his brother to hurry and get out of there."

At a news conference following Wednesday's court hearing both prosecutors and North Chicago officials said they case is strong and credited the arrest to the community's immediate response.

"The defendant within half hour was in custody and three guns had been taken off the street," Nerheim said.

"We're proud that people got involved. They cared," said North Chicago Police Chief Jim Jackson.

McPherson, who has a prior criminal record, is also charged with armed violence, unlawful use of a weapon and possession of an illegal substance.

"It was a godsend that the code of silence was broken. This area has been known for crime and violence," said Julius Cunningham.

Officials would not discuss the details of their investigation and were vague when asked if charges might yet be filed against a second offender arrested along with McPherson.

Police later executed a search warrant on McPherson's home, where they say they recovered the weapon that was used in the shooting.

Janay McFarlane and her 3-month-old baby split their time between Lake County and her mother's house on the South Side of Chicago.

"I felt like someone took a knife and stabbed me in the heart, and a piece of my heart I will never get back," said Angela Blakely, Janay McFarlane's mother.

Blakely says Hadiya Pendleton's death was a wake-up call for her daughter. After the crime made national headlines, Blakely says her daughter began to ask many questions about her own mortality.

McPherson is next scheduled to be in court on February 26.