Prosecutors said Demetrius Warren, 21, fatally shot Amadou Cisse in November 2007 while he and a crew of stickup men were prowling the area around the Hyde Park campus looking to carry out “licks,” or robberies.
A jury in August found Warren guilty of first-degree murder, armed robbery and aggravated discharge of a firearm.
Judge Dennis Porter sentenced him today to consecutive terms of 80 years in prison for murder and 40 years for the other two counts.
Cisse , 29, a Senegal native, had recently defended his dissertation in chemistry shortly before the slaying and was scheduled to be awarded a Ph.D., according to trial testimony.
His godmother, Czerny Brasuell, read a lengthy statement to the court at his sentencing in which she said the murder left Cisse’s family devastated. His mother “lives in a state of astonishment” while a brother struggles with “survivor’s guilt,” she said.
Brasuell said that when she packed up his belongings to send back to the family in Senegal, she noticed he had kept all of the clothes she had purchased for him during his first winter as an undergraduate in Maine 10 years earlier, including the sweater he was wearing the night he was killed.
“This is characteristic of this young man who took careful care of his things so they would last. He was not a spendthrift, was not frivolous,” Brasuell said. “He was materially poor but intellectually, spiritually and humanistically rich.”
Prosecutors said Warren had come up with the idea to rob people around the U. of C. campus and enlisted the help of co-defendant Eric Walker, who had rented a car from an acquaintance in return for crack cocaine.
Walker, who agreed to cooperate against Warren in exchange for a 20-year sentence for armed robbery, testified he drove around the university campus while Warren and two others picked out victims in the early morning hours of Nov. 19, 2007.
Two others, Benjamin Williams and Jamal Bracey, pleaded guilty to the murder last year. Judge Dennis Porter sentenced Williams to 53 years in prison and gave Bracey a 35-year term.