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Anita Alvarez
Cook County State's Attorney
Communications Department
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 603-3423

April 20, 2009

Gang Members Sentenced in Slaying of 13-Year Old Girl

Two men convicted in the slaying of a 13-year-old girl caught in gang-related cross fire on a Chicago playground have been sentenced to a combined 140 years in prison, the Office of Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez announced today.

Calling their behavior “cowardly” and “inexplicable,” Cook County Circuit Court Judge Nicholas Ford sentenced Mwenda Murithi, 27, and Tony Serrano, 20, in connection with the 2007 murder of Schanna Gayden.   Murithi, who ordered the gang-related shooting, was sentenced to 55 years and Serrano, who fired the shots, received an 85-year sentence. Both men to serve 100 percent of their sentence.

“This case represents another senseless and tragic slaying of an innocent child by gang members who have absolutely no regard for human life,” State’s Attorney Alvarez said.  “This is a fitting and appropriate sentence and we thank the many members of the community who stepped up and spoke out during the course of this trial to help obtain justice for this young victim and her family.” 

Gayden was shot during the early evening hours of June 27, 2007 when she and her 15-year-old cousin were at the playground of Funston Elementary School located at 2032 N.  Central Park in the city’s Logan Square neighborhood.  According to court testimony, Murithi and fellow gang members were near the playground and became engaged in a verbal altercation with rival gang members.  During the altercation, Murithi called a fellow gang member and told him to bring him a gun. 

The gang member then went to the home of Serrano, who retrieved a gun from the ceiling of his basement, tucked it into his waistband and joined Murithi and fellow gang members near the playground.  According to court testimony, Murithi told Serrano to shoot at the rival gang members and he fired six shots, which sprayed across the nearby playground.  One of the bullets struck Gayden in the head and she died the next morning at Children’s Memorial Hospital.  Multiple witnesses identified Serrano as the shooter and testified that they heard Murithi tell Serrano to open fire on the rival gang members.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant State’s Attorney’s from the Gang Crimes Unit of the State’s Attorney’s Special Prosecutions Bureau.  State’s Attorney Alvarez thanked Assistant State’s Attorneys Brian Holmes, Michael Golden and George Canellis for their handling of the case. 

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