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Man Gets 120 Years For Murder Of U Of C Ph.D. Student

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CHICAGO (CBS) — A young man has been sentenced to 120 years in prison for the murder of a University of Chicago Ph.D. Student four years ago.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Conway reports, Demetrius Warren, 21, was sentenced Wednesday for the murder of Amadou Cisse. He was the only defendant in the case to go to trial rather than pleading guilty.

Another defendant, Jamal Bracey, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 35 years in prison for his role in the murder last year. A third, Benjamin Williams, was sentenced to 41 years after a guilty plea.

Before the sentencing, Cisse’s American godmother, Czerny Brasuell, addressed the court. She said she noticed that after Cisse died, he kept all the clothes she had purchased for him nearly a decade before at Bates College in Maine.

“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. He worked hard for the fellowships and grants he was awarded. . . . He was materially poor but intellectually, spiritually and humanistically rich,” Brasuell said.

Cisse was wearing one of the 10 sweaters Brausell gave him when he was shot and killed.

Cisse, a native of Senegal, told Brasuell he could finally “begin” his life after successfully defending his dissertation in chemistry at the U of C. He was a month away from graduation.

But 10 days later, on Nov. 19, 2007, Cisse’s life was snuffed out when Warren fired a .22 caliber weapon at him when he refused to give his book bag to Warren and co-defendant Williams.

Warren shot Cisse, 29, once in the chest with the stolen .22 as he and Williams tried to grab Cisse’s book bag in the 6100 block of South Ellis Avenue.

Cisse, 29, had attended an ice cream social and chatted with friends the night he was killed. He had just left campus with his backpack and a water bottle when he was accosted about 1:30 a.m.

The site where Cisse was shot is only about a block from the Burton-Judson undergraduate dormitory, and the South Campus Residence Hall, which opened about two years after Cisse’s murder.

Bracey was in a Pontiac Bonneville with the driver, Eric Walker, and another person, waiting as the shooting took place, she said.

All five had been driving around in the car as Warren went on a spree, holding up others, sometimes with the assistance of the other, Turano said.

About 15 minutes before Cisse was gunned down, Bracey and Warren had held up two other U of C students as they left the college library. They stole the womens’ pens, credit cards and wallets, Turano said.

After Cisse was shot and the men fled, the credit cards were used to buy gas to fill up the Bonneville.

Since Cisse’s murder, his siblings — who weren’t able to attend the hearing — have had three children who in “various forms” carry his name. Cisse’s brother has survivor’s guilt and is a perpetual state of mourning, and their mother, Seynabou Ndiaye, often visits her firstborn’s grave.

“Each day, she, like Sisyphus, wakes only to begin another day pushing her rock of grief up an interminable hill that will reappear tomorrow. There is no end to the sorrow,” Brasuell said.

Outside the courtroom, Warren’s mother maintained her son’s innocence. She said Warren was never known as a bully growing up.

“At school he was known as the teddy bear because he didn’t fight back,” Charisse Warren said.

The Chicago Sun-Times contributed to this report, via the Sun-Times Media Wire.