Separate juries convicted two Far South Side young men this afternoon of killing an 8-year-old girl and wounding her younger cousin in a shooting two years ago that prosecutors alleged was sparked by feuding factions in Chicago’s Roseland neighborhood.
A Cook County jury deliberated a little more than an hour before finding Marcus Cocroft, 18, guilty of murder and aggravated battery in the August 2010 shootings of Tanaja Stokes and Ariana Jones, 7.
A second jury, which heard the same trial in a combined proceeding, deliberated about six hours before convicting co-defendant Steshawn Brisco of the same charges late Friday afternoon.
Cocroft, dressed in an argyle sweater and blue tie, showed no visible reaction as the jury’s verdicts were announced in Judge Stanley Sacks’ courtroom.
His mother started to cry after the jury left the room and could be heard wailing in the hallway of the Leighton Criminal Court Building.
Prosecutors said the girls were playing on a warm summer evening outside Tanaja’s home in the 10700 block of South Indiana Avenue when Cocroft and Brisco rode up on bicycles and opened fire on another group of teens standing nearby.
One of the bullets struck Tanaja in the head and killed her.
Ariana was struck in the head and hospitalized in critical condition but survived and testified at the trial earlier this week.
The shooting was sparked by an ongoing feud between rival groups of teens in the Roseland neighborhood, prosecutors said.
Cocroft and Briscoe were later heard bragging about how they “aired out the D-block,” a reference to that section of Indiana Avenue, Assistant State’s Attorney Lisa Longo said in her closing argument.
Cocroft’s attorneys argued that witnesses who identified their client as one of the gunmen were biased, and that no physical evidence linked him to the shooting.
Cocroft and Brisco were tried simultaneously before different juries.