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Finding fault everywhere else

August 22nd, 2019 10:07 AM

By Arlene Jones

Columnist

The state of Illinois has a law that allows murder charges to be filed against accomplices when someone is killed during the commission of certain felonies. That law is about 200 years old, which means it was put in place in the early 1800s. Slavery didn't end until 1865, so no one can profess that the law was designed for black people. 

In my humble opinion, before political correctness took over and everybody now has a laundry list of excuses for criminal behavior, the mindset was that if you go out and commit a crime and someone gets killed in the process, the criminals are responsible for the action. That law was used quite commonly in the early 1990s to charge everybody in the car when a drive-by shooting occurred even if only one person pulled the trigger. I knew a young man who spent over 20 years in prison for that very reason.

The distinction being made regarding that law today is that in the most recent case where the law is being applied, six South Side teenagers, five of whom are cousins, drove all the way up to Lake County in a stolen car. They bypassed several northern suburbs to go to a less populated area to attempt to steal another car. 

During the commission of their criminal activity, they ran into a 75-year-old homeowner with a concealed carry license and a gun. The homeowner says he feared for his safety and that of his wife, so he fired at the individuals when they approached him with something in their hand. Fourteen-year-old Ja'quan Swoopes was hit. The bullet entered his left temple and exited out the top of his head, according to his mother. She is also quoted as saying, "My nephews, they steal cars sometimes. Yes, they were wrong for being in a stolen car, but [the homeowner] was wrong for pulling the trigger."

A lot of individuals have professed that it's unfair for the Lake County prosecutor to charge all five of the teens with the murder seeing that none of them fired the shot that killed Ja'quan. However there is still some accountability that should be placed on them for their actions. Why are such older teens running around with a much younger teenager? 

What about putting him in the car and driving him away rather than remaining at the scene for an ambulance? Ambulance paramedics would stabilize a gunshot victim before they are moved. Placing someone in a car and driving off with them, more often than not, can cause them to succumb to their injuries as both the victim and the bullet are jostled about. When those six teenagers did find a police officer at the scene of a different incident, Ja'quan and another teen got out of the car for help while the other four drove off. Since the majority of them were related to him, that's family for you!

A lot of people are now calling for the law to be changed. And I agree. That law should be amended to add in wayward parents and make them as culpable for the crime as their wayward minor children. When a parent admits she knows her nephews steal cars, and she doesn't have a problem with sending her 14-year-old son off to be with them, that is a serious issue. He was still a kid who hadn't even graduated eighth grade yet. He was in his formative years where adult supervision was an absolute necessity.

This case, just like many others that have happened in the past, continue to highlight the biggest problem of them all: irresponsible parents who find fault everywhere except with themselves!

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