One suspect denied bond in girl's killing

By Leah Hope June 28, 2007 (WLS)

The two men charged in the shooting death of a 13-year-old Chicago girl appeared in court Thursday afternoon. Tony Serrano and Mwenda Murithi are accused in the murder of Schanna Gayden, who was in a park when she was shot.

Police say this was a gang-related shooting. Thursday, family members for one of the suspects showed up in court to support him.

Prosecutors say both suspects gave video statements implicating themselves in the crime. The judge ordered Tony Serrano held without bond and Mwenda Murithi was given a $2 million bond. But prosecutors say it was Murithi who ordered Serrano to shoot into the crowded park.

The 2000-block of North Central Park is a boundary for those who observe it. It’s a divided territory for two rival gangs. Unfortunately, Monday night some children were enjoying the park when some rivals apparently crossed paths.

“When a case like this does happen it evokes outrage in everyone,” said Maria McCarthy, Cook County assistant state’s attorney.

Thirteen-year-old Schanna Gayden was shot in the forehead. She was an honor student at Ames Middle School and a star basketball player. She died in the early morning hours from her injuries Tuesday.

“It’s a seemingly never-ending story of gangs trying to show other gangs that they’re stronger and meaner. And as in most of those stories, it ends the same way, with people getting killed, people going to prison, and everyone else left asking why,” said McCarthy.

Tony Serrano and Mwenda Murithi appeared in court Thursday, both charged with first-degree murder. Prosecutors say Murithi taunted other gang members that night, asked for a gun to be brought to him then ordered Serrano to shoot.

Murithi is a 26-year-old Kenyan whose student visa expired. He served jail time for previous offenses and currently has three cases pending against him. Tony Serrano is a 19-year-old graduate of the high school and moved to help his mom after graduation. Serrano’s father, stepmother and sister were in court Thursday. They declined comment. Serrano’s attorney spoke for the family.

“Mr. Serrano is a good kid. He has been a law-abiding person all his life. And this event was a situation that became very unfortunate due to the area where the — the Humboldt Park area, and the rest we will find out in court,” said Gal Pissetzky, Serrano’s defense attorney.

Tony Serrano’s family offered condolences to the family of Schanna Gayden. It is believed Murithi’s family is in Kenya.

Schanna’s funeral is scheduled for Saturday at 11 a.m. at Armitage Baptist Church.

(Copyright ©2011 WLS-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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