95 years in River Forest Priory Park murder

Former cop charged with ambush murder of girlfriend

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Bill Dwyer

Contributing reporter

Following scathing comments in which Circuit Court judge Noreen Valeria Love characterized ex-cop Devin Bickham Sr., 42, as being, "a monster… not a human being," she sentenced Bickham Thursday to 95 years in prison for the 2011 ambush murder of his girlfriend, Chervon Alexander in a River Forest park.

Bickham got 80 years for the murder and an additional 15 years for a fire arm being used. He will be required to serve 100 percent of the sentence.

"When he sets foot outside of the penitentiary, it will be in a prone position in a pine box," Love said. 

Upon hearing the sentenced passed, the courtroom gallery erupted in extended applause requiring courtroom deputies to quiet.

Asked if he wanted to make a statement, Bickham replied, "No, your honor."

On July 16, the trial judge, Noreen Valeria Love sentenced Bickham's son, Devin Bickham Jr, 23, to 50 years. He's currently in reception at Stateville, and will also serve the full sentence without parole, less three years and five days of time served in Cook County Jail awaiting trial.

The third man charged in the murder, Cardell Taylor, is expected to go on trial in September or October.

Assistant State's Attorney James McKay said he was limited in what he could say prior to Taylor's trial, but allowed that his office was satisfied in the Bickham case.

"We're very pleased the judge gave Devin Bickham (Sr.) the maximum allowed by the law for his despicable actions," McKay said. "We can say a lot more after Cardell Taylor's trial."

Love made her sentencing ruling after an aggravation and mitigation hearing in which the prosecution and defense made arguments. The court also heard from Alexander's mother, who read a prepared victim impact statement.

As part of the prosecution's aggravation argument, ASA McKay elicited testimony from a former Lake County police detective who in 2000 investigated the senior Bickham's sexual misconduct with a 17-year old girl in the back seat of his North Chicago squad car. Bickham admitted his sexual misconduct in a five-page report he wrote and signed.

Bickham was fired from the department for that conduct, but not criminally charged.

McKay stressed that Bickham's actions in River Forest destroyed not one, but two families- Alexander's and his own.

"He doesn't care about them. He doesn't care about his own family," McKay told the judge. "Devin Bickham Sr. made Devin Bickham Jr. a murderer."

As he had during the trial, McKay again lauded the quick action of River Forest and Forest police in identifying and stopping the car used in the murder. The murder weapon was recovered from that car.

"If it wasn't for the officers who stopped Devin Jr. and Cardell Taylor on Harlem Avenue, (Devin Sr.) would have gotten away."

Chervon Alexander's mother, Mary Alexander, told the court Bickham's murder of her daughter had wrought a deep swath of pain through her family.

"I can't sleep at night," she said. "My granddaughter slept alone in her bedroom (before the murder). She's now unable to since the death of her mother."

Mrs. Alexander called for both the maximum punishment for Bickham while also forgiving him.

"Nevertheless, we forgive you, Devin Bickham, for the horrible crime you committed," she told her daughter's killer. "We hope you can make peace with God so He can forgive you."

Judge Love excoriated Bickham prior to passing sentence, saying he was "lower than the vermin that are under rocks."

"When we talk in this (criminal justice) business about people with a malignant heart, (Bickham, Sr.) is the epitome of that," Love said. "This is a monster. This is not a human being."

Love said Bickham was a man with no love for or loyalty to others, someone "as emotionless as a glass of ice water."

"What really bothers me is he took pride in that," Love said of Bickham's persistent sexual unfaithfulness to his wife. Her voice rising, she added, "He took the (witness) stand and threw his own son under the bus to save his own skin."

"He has hurt people since he's been on this planet."

Judge Love agreed with the state's contention that the "cold, calculating and premeditated" nature of the crime would have made Bickham Sr. eligible for execution under the state's old death penalty.

"I do believe the state is 100 percent right that this would qualify for the (old) death penalty," the judge opined. "And this court would have imposed that penalty."

"But to be clear, that's probably too good for him," Love added.

As Chervon Alexander's family and friends filed out, one woman looked over at Bickham and said loudly, "Rest in hell!"

After meeting briefly with McKay and fellow ASA Russell Baker, members of Chervon Alexander's family hugged all three prosecutors on the case, many smiling broadly for the first time at the courthouse.

Outside in the parking lot, as they somberly entered waiting cars, one family member paused to express some small measure of resolution.

Walter Hill, an Austin resident who identified himself as Chervon Alexander's brother, said, "We're elated he got the time he got. He got what he had coming."

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Reader Comments

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Comment Policy

The Brad from OP  

Posted: August 8th, 2014 12:37 PM

Actually, Mr. Hill, if he "got what he got coming", then he'd be executed. The State now has to pay to sustain this animal for the rest of his life in prison, money not allocated to heal the crippled infrastructure of the State or fund vital programs or grants. It is a shame.

John Q  

Posted: August 7th, 2014 10:41 PM

Hi Ho Hi Ho, that's not how it works in Illinois. The media doesn't know what prisons they are going to. They don't know themselves. They will find out when they go through receiving and classification at Stateville.

Hi Ho Hi Ho  

Posted: August 7th, 2014 3:06 PM

Are the father and son in the same prison? If not, will they be? Now if only this judge could be used in sentencing these gang bangers who kill the innocent!!!

Winter Skye from Chicago, Illinois  

Posted: August 7th, 2014 3:03 PM

Whatever happened to giving ages in stories? Geez...

In Glen Ellyn formerly from OP  

Posted: August 7th, 2014 1:54 PM

Cha-ching! Taxpayers get to pay to (rightly) keep this criminal (and accomplices) out of society for many tax years to come. I guess this is cheaper than deemphasizing the rights to and marketing of sexual gratification we legally agree to buy and sell in our daily lives. Can we get potential perps to see prison as more UNattractive than sexual gratification is attractive? Can we realistically value people enough that they value and respect themselves and others? (By "value" I don't mean $)

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