Five years ago, when he was 15-years-old, Jerryon Stevens sat in juvenile court facing his first two felony charges for allegedly selling heroin near his Humboldt Park home. Joining Stevens in court that day were his grandmother and a reporter who would later write a 5,000-word feature for Chicago Magazine titled, “Can Jerryon Stevens Be Saved?“
On Thursday, Jerryon Stevens — now 21-years-old and fresh off parole for two gun cases — was charged with first-degree murder.
The Chicago Magazine piece told a story that’s all too familiar for many Chicagoans. Drugs. Guns. No positive father figure.
Stevens’ grandmother did her level best to convince him to take a path different from one that led at least 20 other men in her life to wind up in prison or be shot dead. His grandmother remembered how a younger Stevens was a straight-A student, conversant in Spanish and sign language.
“He so hardheaded, I don’t know what it’s going to take for him to change. I really don’t,” Stevens’ mother told the reporter.
At one point, Stevens took the reporter on a walking tour of his neighborhood — a tour that took them within steps of the spot where he would allegedly help kill a man five years later.
“We turn onto Chicago Avenue, the main drag and the site of an ongoing turf war between several West Side gangs, including the Ts (short for Traveling Vice Lords), with whom Jerryon claims to be affiliated, and the Royals (short for Simon City Royals), rumored to be responsible for a handful of shootings in the past few months.”
Stevens’ appearance has changed since he was profiled at age 15. In the usual ways that come with growing up. And other ways — like the tattoos on his face and neck.
On Thursday, a Cook County prosecutor said it was an ongoing feud between the Traveling Vice Lords and another gang, the Conservative Vice Lords, that sparked the killing Stevens is now charged with.
Surveillance video shows Stevens driving a stolen red Honda that two gunmen jumped out of to shoot and kill Jim Courtney-Clarks, 20, on the afternoon of December 22, Assistant State’s Attorney Kevin Deboni said.
Stevens and one of the suspected gunmen were pulled over by cops for an “investigatory stop” on the day after the shooting. Data from Stevens’ phone, which police seized during the stop, shows he was in the area of the murder when it unfolded, Deboni said.
Stevens recently completed parole for two separate felony gun cases. He received 15-months in one case and a year in the other. Earlier this month, Stevens was slapped with another felony drug charge.
His private attorney, Herschel Rush, argued that there is no physical evidence linking Stevens to the murder. Stevens has a one-year-old daughter and works two full-time jobs, including one at a boutique Stevens’ family owns, Rush said.
But Judge Mary Marubio cited video evidence and the apparent coordination that went into the attack as she ordered Stevens held without bail.
The two gunmen who fired the shots that killed Courtney-Clarks remain at large.