Man fit to stand trial in case of shooting death of Chicago teen
By Jim Newton firstname.lastname@example.org August 20, 2013 11:36AM
Updated: September 22, 2013 6:24AM
A Lake County Circuit Court Judge ruled Tuesday that Jim McPherson of North Chicago is fit to stand trial in the shooting death of 18-year-old Janay McFarlane, which was the county’s first murder of 2013 and coincided with the presence of the president in Chicago to discuss gun violence.
McPherson, 22, is accused of gunning down McFarlane of Chicago in a North Chicago alley Friday, Feb. 15.
State’s Attorney Mike Nerheim is personally prosecuting the case and was present during McPherson’s fitness hearing.
It will be his first case as a prosecutor since his election to the office.
Both Nerheim and defense attorney James Scwarzbach stipulated to the finding of a report by a clinical psychologist that McPherson is competent to stand trial.
Judge Victoria Rossetti, prior to ruling in agreement with the report, questioned McPherson on his understanding of the case against him, the roles of the prosecutor and defense, and the differences between a jury and bench trial.
When asked to tell the judge the charges against him, McPherson responded “I don’t even want to say it.” When prompted further, he said “first-degree murder.”
According to police and prosecutors, McPherson was inside John’s Liquor Store and Mini Mart Feb.15 when McFarlane, who was visiting family in Lake County, and some friends walked into the store, Nerheim said.
According to a witness, McPherson “stared Janay down” before she left the store to walk back to a friend’s home.
McPherson allegedly then left the store and got into a car his brother drove, and was dropped off at the intersection of 13th and Victoria streets. Witnesses reported hearing shots in that vicinity, Nerheim said.
McFarlane was found with a gunshot wound to the head in an alley in the 1300 block of Jackson Street. She died at the scene, prosecutors said, and a witness “observed the defendant running away,” Nerheim has said.
Hours before McFarlane was shot, her sister Destini, 14, sat near President Barack Obama when he spoke about the gun violence plaguing the nation and Chicago.
If convicted, McPherson faces 45 to 85 years in prison. A preliminary trial date of Nov. 12 was set Tuesday.
He remains in custody of the Lake County Jail in lieu of $3 million bond.