A jury took just three hours Friday to convict the third man charged in the 2011 ambush murder of Austin resident Chervon Alexander in a River Forest parking lot.
Cardell Taylor, 39, was found guilty of the contract murder of Alexander following a five-day trial. He will be sentenced March 5.
Alexander, a single mother, was shot to death while in a car driven to the River Forest location by her fiancee, Devin Bickham Sr. Prosecutors alleged that the father had arranged to have Alexander killed because he was already married, was facing serious financial problems and did not want to marry Alexander.
The night of July 11, Bickham Sr. drove Alexander to a parking lot adjacent to the Dominican Priory property, ostensibly to have sex. Instead, a man appeared outside the car and fired multiple shots into Alexander, killing her.
Bickham Sr. made a 911 call to River Forest police to serve as an alibi, giving a general description of the getaway car, which he in fact owned.
His son and Taylor were stopped by Forest Park police less than two miles away on Harlem Avenue and a gun was recovered from the car.
After being driven to the location by police, Bickham Sr. at first said he didn't recognize the two men before admitting that Bickham Jr. was his son.
All three were arrested and taken to the River Forest police station for questioning. The were all charged with murder the next day.
Taylor was alleged to be the gunman by Bickham's son, who drove Taylor to the scene in Bickham Sr.'s car. The father and son were found guilty by separate juries on May 14. The father was sentenced to 95 years in prison. The son received a 50 year sentence.
Lead prosecutor Jim McKay lauded both "the quantity and quality" of the evidence gathered by police.
At trial, McKay said, Taylor attempted to portray himself as an innocent bystander, but could not explain away an array of incriminating evidence. That included gun-shot residue on his shirt and the fact that the DNA found on the murder weapon could not be excluded as Taylor's.
Prosecutors also pointed to Taylor's videotaped confession to police, and his remark to Bickham Sr. immediately after his arrest, saying, "I want my money now."
McKay said Taylor agreed to kill Alexander for $400.
"This was a contract hit," he said. "Taylor was literally a hired gun, hired by (Bickham Sr.) to kill that woman."
As he did after the previous trials, McKay praised what he called excellent police work that led to the quick apprehension of the suspects and an investigation that led to their charging and conviction.
In particular, McKay lauded the work of Forest Park patrol officer Daniel Miller, who stopped the car driven by Devin Bickham Jr.
"His intuition and quick action in stopping the defendant's getaway car was one of the keys to the case."
River Forest Deputy Chief Jim O'Shea said that while he believed River Forest investigators would have eventually developed a successful case against the three men, the quick and effective action by River Forest and Forest Park police resulted in immediate arrests.
O'Shea also singled out Officer Miller's role in identifying and arresting the suspects just minutes after the murder saved countless hours of investigative effort.
"A big thanks goes out to Forest Park (police) and in particular, Officer Miller," said O'Shea. "It would have been a lot more hours to get the same results we got in minutes."
O'Shea also said it was satisfying to bring some semblance of justice to the Alexander family.
"Our prayers and thoughts go out to the family, who have been devastated by this crime."
Answer Book 2019
To view the full print edition of the Wednesday Journal 2019 Answer Book, please click here.
Sign-up to get the latest news updates for Oak Park and River Forest.
|Submit Letter To The Editor|
|Place a Classified Ad|