MARKHAM | People gasped Friday when Cook County Associate Judge Darron Bowden set bond at $10 million for a 20-year-old man charged in the shooting death of a 15-year-old Hammond girl. The girl's 19-year-old cousin also was injured in the shooting.
Bowden set the high bond for Eric A. Brown after hearing Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Tom Driscoll say Ashaya Miller and her cousin, Dahnyah Williams, were sitting in the kitchen of Williams’ Calumet City home Sunday night when gunshots came through an open window.
Driscoll said Brown was outside the house and fired the shots before fleeing the scene.
Miller was pronounced dead at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, while Williams remained hospitalized there as of Friday, Driscoll said.
Brown was arrested Thursday following an investigation by the South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force. Driscoll said the task force found people who said they overheard Brown admit to the shootings as part of a gang-related incident, while claiming that Miller was not the intended target.
Brown faces two counts of murder and one count of aggravated battery with a firearm. Bowden scheduled a preliminary hearing of April 11 for Brown.
Family members for both Brown and Miller were in the courtroom for the bond hearing, and Cook County sheriff’s police had four extra uniformed deputies on hand to ensure the two families were kept separate.
Later in the day Friday, about 60 of Miller's family members and friends, who affectionately refer to her as Shay Shay, held a prayer vigil outside the Ingraham Avenue House where the shooting took place.
The group, which included Miller’s mother, Jeanetie Lyte, father James Miller Jr. and aunt Chanette Miller, lit candles and said a short prayer before unleashing dozens of pink and blue balloons bearing messages of love for the girl into the sky.
Among those who attended the vigil was Mayor Michelle Markiewicz Qualkinbush, who said of her brief visit with Lyte, “I’m here as a mom of a teenaged son to offer condolences to a mother who lost her teenage daughter.”
Brown, who for his court hearing was dressed in a black T-shirt and rumpled gray jeans, was transported to the Cook County Jail in Chicago. He will be held there while his case is pending, unless he can come up with the $1 million required for his bond.
When setting the bond, Bowden took into account the fact that Brown currently has two other criminal charges pending against him. Driscoll said there are separate cases now in the court system in which Brown is charged with burglary and retail theft.
But attorneys with the public defender’s office who represented Brown on Friday pointed out that he lives in Calumet City with his mother, brother and sister. He also is the father of a 1-year-old girl who lives with her mother.
Brown attended, but did not graduate from, Thornton Fractional North High School. His last employment was with a temp agency, but he currently has no job.