CHICAGO — Three Chicago men have been charged in a murder-for-hire conspiracy that resulted in two fatal shootings in the city’s Lawndale neighborhood.
DESHAWN MORGAN, 37, DARIUS MURPHY, 19, and DEMOND BROWN, 26, are charged with conspiracy to use an interstate facility in the commission of a murder for hire, according to a criminal complaint and affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago. All three defendants are in law enforcement custody. U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan E. Cox scheduled a detention hearing for Brown for Aug. 19, 2019, at 4:30 p.m., and preliminary hearings for Morgan and Murphy for Aug. 20, 2019, at 10:30 a.m.
The charges were announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Timothy Jones, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; Eddie Johnson, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department; Kathy A. Enstrom, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division; Brian McKnight, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; and Kimberly M. Foxx, Cook County State’s Attorney. Valuable assistance was provided by the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, the FBI, the Chicago High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program (HIDTA), and the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys John D. Mitchell and Grayson S. Walker.
According to the complaint, Morgan has been involved in violence and illegal narcotics trafficking on the West Side of Chicago. Morgan believed Donald Holmes, Jr., was working with law enforcement as a confidential informant and Morgan sought to have him killed, the complaint states. In the fall of 2017, Morgan hired Murphy and Brown to murder Holmes in exchange for $5,000 and an assault rifle, the charges allege.
On the night of Jan. 31, 2018, the defendants lured Holmes to the 4700 block of West Arthington Street in Chicago, the complaint states. Holmes arrived with his girlfriend, Diane Taylor, and the pair was sitting in Holmes’s Jeep Cherokee parked on the street when Murphy entered the vehicle and shot Holmes and Taylor multiple times in the back of their heads, the complaint states.
Although Holmes had previously worked as a cooperating source for law enforcement, he was not working with law enforcement at the time of the murders, the complaint states.
The day after the murders, Brown purchased a used Buick LeSabre for $900 in cash, the complaint states. Brown then allegedly traveled to Minneapolis, Minn., where he traded the handgun used in the murders for a different firearm. Law enforcement eventually recovered the gun used in the murders after it was discovered in the possession of a Minnesota resident who was arrested in February 2018 in Milwaukee, Wisc., according to the complaint.
The public is reminded that a complaint is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The charge in the complaint carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison, while a sentence of death is also possible. Only the Attorney General of the United States has the authority to seek the death penalty. If convicted, the Court must impose reasonable sentences under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.