CHICAGO (CBS) –A 33-year-old Chicago man has been charged in the fatal shooting of 6-month-old Jonylah Watkins earlier this year.
Koman Willis was charged with first-degree murder and aggravated battery with a firearm. He allegedly shot the baby March 11 while trying to harm the girl’s father, Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy announced at a news conference Monday.
Jonathan Watkins was sitting with his daughter on his lap in a minivan when the shooter allegedly began firing at them in the Woodlawn neighborhood. Jonathan Watkins survived his three gunshot wounds, but Jonylah later died from her injuries, sparking outrage and again drawing attention to Chicago’s continuing problem with street violence.
Willis, who was a suspect in the case early on, has an extensive criminal history that includes 38 arrests, McCarthy said. He was retaliating against the elder Watkins over a video-game system that was stolen in a burglary, say police, who originally suggested the shooting was gang-related.
“Jonylah was obviously not the intended target,” McCarthy said.
The suspect came to police over the weekend with an attorney as detectives zeroed in on him, McCarthy said.
The case proved troubling to police because of the age of the victim, Lt. Kevin Duffin said.
“We all have our own kids,” he said.
Pastor Corey Brooks, who has been acting as a media liaison for the victim’s parents, says Jonathan Watkins cooperated with police and has gotten his life back on track by working on his GED. Jonathan and the girl’s mother spent the day at the baby’s grave site, he said.
They were expected to talk with reporters later this week.
Willis was expected to make an appearance in court Tuesday, authorities said.