CHICAGO — A California man has been sentenced to 20 years for fatally shooting a man on the North Side during a dispute about a dice game.
“A stupid dice game,” Cook County Judge John Lyke remarked upon hearing the allegations during Salik Berberena’s initial bail hearing in November 2020. “A stupid dice game. I know most people say, well, it’s not about the dice game, it’s about respect. That’s even more stupid.”
A grand jury indicted Berberena on multiple counts of first-degree murder. Still, he ultimately struck a deal that allowed him to plead guilty to a reduced count of second-degree murder, court records show. Judge Carol Howard handed him the 20-year sentence. It will be reduced by 50% for good behavior and offset by the 1,008 days he spent in Cook County jail before pleading. His parole date is set for October 10, 2030.
Prosecutors said Berberena was arrested for a different murder in 2007, but the state’s attorney’s office declined to pursue the case because witnesses refused to cooperate.
‘A stupid dice game’
On July 11, 2020, 27-year-old Jovante King drove to the 2800 block of North Leavitt with his brother and a friend to defuse the dice game dispute after receiving a series of anonymous threatening messages, prosecutors said. When the group arrived, a man and a woman warned King to leave the area because he was in danger.
That’s when Berberena walked up and put a gun to King’s head, the state said. King repeatedly pushed the gun away from his head and tried to calm the situation with his words. But Berberena pulled the trigger, fatally shooting King in the head, according to prosecutors.
When King’s brother began to yell, “Get up bro,” Berberena allegedly replied, “he’s not getting up.”
The brother grabbed a gun in King’s car and got out of the vehicle. Berberena then began shooting toward the brother as he fled, prosecutors said. King died the next day.
The murder was captured on surveillance video, prosecutors said, but the footage is not clear enough to identify the gunman. Berberena was allegedly identified as the killer by four witnesses.
According to prosecutors, Berberena became uncooperative during a line-up at the Area Three detective division by refusing to stand and pulling his hoodie over his head.
At one point, Berberena began yelling and violently pushed his face into the line-up room glass to intimidate the witness, the state said. The witness reportedly heard the commotion but did not see what happened.
During the line-up incident, which was captured on video, Berberena knocked a police officer to the ground and spat in the faces of three other cops, prosecutors said. The officer who fell suffered injuries to their hip and hand.
Berberena pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated battery of a peace officer stemming from that incident. Judge Howard sentenced him to a concurrent sentence of three years.