Father, son found guilty of Chervon Alexander's murder

Juries took four hours to convict. Third suspect tried later this year

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Bill Dwyer

Contributing reporter

Devin A. Bickham Sr. and his son Devin Jr. were found guilty May 14, of the 2011 ambush murder of Austin resident Chervon Alexander in a parking lot in River Forest park.

Because the father's defense involved accusing his son of committing the murder without his participation, the two men were tried by separate juries. 

Bickham Sr.'s eight-man, four-woman jury, which included the jury foreman among three African Americans, took just under four hours to reach a verdict of first degree murder. Jurors also found that Bickham Sr. committed that murder in a "cold, calculating and premeditated manner."

Bickham Sr. stood motionless next to his attorneys as jury foreman Louis Towers passed the verdict sheets over to the judge, and remained expressionless as the court clerk read the verdicts. Around two hours earlier a second jury, which got Devin Bickham Jr.'s case just before noon, found him guilty.

The alleged gunman in the case, Cardell Taylor, will be tried later this year.

After court dismissed just after 8 p.m., members of Chervon Alexander's family clapped as prosecutors walked up to them. 

A member of the Alexander group said the family did not want to comment publicly at the moment.

The elder Bickham took the witness stand in his own defense on May 13.

Murder plot 'mastermind'

Bickham's defense attorney, Michael Clancy, used his client's testimony to attack prosecution contentions that he masterminded a plot to kill Alexander in order to avoid going through with a planned August wedding, despite not having started divorce proceedings with his wife of 12 years.

Clancy walked the senior Bickham through testimony that implicated his son as the main suspect, a young man angry at his father's plans to marry Alexander and leave the state.

On a police interrogation video, Bickham Jr. stated that on the night of July 11, 2011 he was directed by his passenger, Cardell Taylor, to park across the street from Dominican University's Priory Park campus parking lot, and that he watched as Taylor walked across Division Street into the parking lot. He said he then heard numerous gunshots, and subsequently saw Taylor "trot" back to the car, enter the front passenger door and say, "Go! Drive, go!"

But under cross-examination by assistant state's attorney James McKay, Bickham struggled to explain numerous questions, including why he didn't recognize his own car as it fled the murder scene, and why he didn't recognize his own son or a long-time neighbor and alleged friend at a street line up minutes after the shooting. 

Closing arguments 

The closing arguments were intense and at times personal between the attorneys.

Russell Baker analogized the murder scheme to a theatrical or movie production, one he said the senior Bickham controlled.

Bickham Jr. and Taylor, he said, were the father's "cast of killers."

Both sides agreed that Bickham was immoral and a liar who deceived his wife and more than a dozen girlfriends, with whom he had six children.

Clancy characterized the prosecution's theory of the crime as "stupid," and argued the jury needed to set aside any moral disdain and judge Bickham Sr. on the evidence, which, he insisted, did not implicate the father in Alexander's murder.

But McKay and Baker relentlessly attacked the father's honesty and credibility as evidence of his untrustworthiness.

Reader Comments

4 Comments - Add Your Comment

Comment Policy

curious  

Posted: May 15th, 2014 8:56 PM

What is the significance of three of the jurors being African American?

Diane Kristy from OP  

Posted: May 15th, 2014 1:07 PM

Made for TV, theater or film! Sympathy to the Alexander family and especially the children. Many, social, dating, family, relationship and life lessons will bloom from this. Kudos to the outstanding law enforcement and legal work. Too bad they can't bring anybody back to life.

Jessica Mackinnon from Oak Park  

Posted: May 15th, 2014 11:56 AM

A sordid story from the get-go. Great reporting, great police work. Glad it's over.

Karen Skinner from Oak Park  

Posted: May 15th, 2014 11:02 AM

Hi Bill - Good to see your fine reporting here!

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