From the Lake County State’s Attorney:
Nerheim statement regarding reduction of charges in Old Mill Creek case
An agreement has been accepted between my office and defense attorneys for the five offenders involved in the August 13 Old Mill Creek crime spree that resulted in the death of a 14-year-old boy from Chicago.
Let me begin by saying the safety of our community and the enforcement of the criminal laws is paramount.
Justice requires that all offenders be held accountable and appropriately sentenced for their crimes.
The circumstances and facts outlined in my statement support the charge of Felony Murder.
However, after full consideration of all the evidence, mitigation presented by defense counsel as well as the wishes of the victim’s family, my office has entered into an agreement with defense counsel for the five offenders.
This agreement ensures all offenders will be held responsible and face appropriate sentences.
Diamond Davis, 18, of Chicago, is expected to appear in Lake County bond court at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19, where she will be formally charged with a class 4 felony of conspiracy to commit burglary and a class A misdemeanor of criminal trespass to a motor vehicle.
Davis is expected today to waive her preliminary hearing, then plead guilty to the two charges next week.
The preliminary charge of felony murder will be dismissed today.
The case will then be scheduled for a sentencing hearing after she pleads guilty.
The cases against the four juvenile offenders are moving to juvenile court, and the charge of felony murder will be dismissed.
However, due to strict laws governing juvenile courtroom proceedings, my office is unable to give details regarding the charges involving the juveniles going forward.
Since preliminary charges of felony murder were announced on Aug. 13, we have received complete investigation reports from the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and have had several meetings with defense attorneys regarding the offenders.
According to the investigation, the facts of the case are as follows:
At about 1:15 a.m. on August 13, several offenders arrived in Old Mill Creek in a vehicle stolen from Cook County. The sole purpose of their visit here was to commit several vehicular burglaries. The offenders drove the stolen vehicle down an exceptionally long driveway on West Edwards Road in a very remote, dark, and secluded section of Lake County.
The 75-year-old homeowner was in bed, but he got up after seeing headlights moving up his driveway. As he was getting ready to go outside, the vehicle turned around in his driveway and parked facing toward the road, before several occupants exited and approached the home. The elderly resident armed himself with a handgun he lawfully owned, then walked out his front door to investigate the situation.
After first announcing his presence and telling the offenders to leave, the elderly homeowner saw several offenders quickly moving toward him. He saw one of the offenders carrying an object, and, fearing for his own life safety and the safety of his wife, he fired his gun several times to try and scare the offenders away. One of the shots fired from the weapon hit the 14-year-old male.
The offenders ran back to the stolen vehicle and drove away, and the homeowner immediately called police. Several minutes later, four of the offenders left the wounded 14-year-old and a second offender with a Gurnee Police officer, who was tending to an unrelated traffic stop. The four drove off in the stolen vehicle, leading police on a high-speed, miles-long chase back to Chicago. The offenders only stopped the vehicle when it ran out of gas and, according to later statements, the offenders said they didn’t stop the vehicle because “they didn’t want to go back to jail.”
After the shooting, police located a 10-inch long hunting knife on the driveway and a cell phone with pinned GPS coordinates of other homes near Old Mill Creek. The offenders have since admitted they knew they were in a stolen vehicle the night of the incident, and all have admitted to coming to Lake County for the sole purpose of committing burglaries.
The dilemma I have faced for the last five weeks surrounding the Old Mill Creek case has been balancing justice, the safety of our community, and recognizing the ages of the offenders involved.
Based on the facts we had at the time of the incident, to ensure the safety of the people of Lake County and Illinois, including the safety of those offenders involved in this incident, I determined the most appropriate charge at the time was Felony Murder. And, to be clear, the charge of Felony Murder according to the statutes does fit the crime committed. However, as State’s Attorney, I exercised discretion in this situation.
It is important to note that I make decisions based on the law, the evidence and facts of each individual case. I do not make charging decisions based on public comments or from what is written on social media. My job as Lake County State’s Attorney is to follow the details of the case and make the best decision I can with the facts, while knowing every decision I make is subject to the utmost scrutiny.
When the investigation into the case was finalized and turned over to my office, we worked diligently with defense attorneys for all five offenders over the last several weeks to find fair and just charges and punishments that took into account the facts, circumstances, prior history, and ages of the offenders. We also considered mitigating information supplied by defense attorneys. My goal has always been to balance my obligation to treat these offenders fairly, while also keeping our community safe. I believe this resolution accomplishes that goal.
It is time for these offenders to understand the seriousness of their actions and face the consequences. If they choose to continue to follow the troubled path they are currently on, it will end in only one of two ways – either with another tragic funeral or with more involvement with the criminal justice system. My hope is they will learn from this tragedy, and because of their young age, take this opportunity to be rehabilitated.
Our condolences continue to go out to the family Jaquan Swopes for their tragic loss during this incident.