Chief Circuit Judge John Madonia sentenced Demarco Jones to 44 years in prison for his role in the shooting death of 19 year-old Alaysia Bennett during an attempted armed robbery at an apartment complex on West Washington in Springfield on December 21, 2016. Devante Taylor, previously sentenced to 50 years following a plea of guilty to First Degree Murder, admitted to shooting Bennett and testified against Jones.
The evidence at trial established that Jones and several associates which included fellow members of “SQAD”, a local street gang, drove around Springfield in a van attempting several robberies prior to the shooting and another following Bennett’s murder. Jones was identified at trial as the “mastermind” of the attempted robbery spree that day, provided a gun to the shooter, directed the fellow SQAD member driving the van, identified the car to target for the botched robbery resulting in Bennett’s murder, and directed Taylor to “hit” the vehicle occupied by Alaysia Bennett and 4 other individuals, including a 3 year-old child. Following the murder, Jones and others disassembled the murder weapon and threw separate pieces into sewer drains in different areas of Springfield which were later recovered by the Springfield Police Department. Jones was on Mandatory Supervised Release or “parole” at the time following his completion of a prison sentence related to a 2015 Aggravated Battery conviction. As a result, he was legally prohibited from leaving Ilinois during his MSR period. Nonetheless, Jones fled to Texas following the murder and was later arrested in October, 2017 following completion of an investigation by the Springfield Police Department.
Jones faced a potential sentencing range of between 35-75 years. Sangamon County State’s Attorney Dan Wright requested a sentence of 60 years, while the Sangamon County Public Defender’s Office requested the minimum sentence of 35 years.
Following the sentencing hearing, Sangamon County State’s Attorney Dan Wright stated:
“We respect the Court’s thorough and considered analysis of the evidence in aggravation presented during the sentencing hearing. The Defendant’s 44-year sentence should reverberate throughout our community to individuals who would commit acts gun violence and participate in gang activity. You will be held accountable. This case is an example of the real life consequences of gun violence. Alaysia Bennett’s family and our entire community lost a bright light as a result of the actions of the Defendant and his associates. Demarco Jones wasn’t the first violent gang member to be removed from our streets and he will not be the last thanks to the tireless efforts of the Springfield Police Department.”
The case was prosecuted by Sangamon County State’s Attorney Dan Wright, First Assistant State’s Attorney Derek Dion, and Assistant State’s Attorney Clark Johnson. The Defendant was represented by Sangamon County Public Defender Craig Reiser and Assistant Public Defender Tawnya Frioli.