In 1994, a child's tragic murder at a housing project in Chicago made headlines across the nation. Five-year-old Eric Morse and his brother Derrick Lemon were playing with two older boys in an apartment at the Ida B. Wells project, when the two boys lifted Eric out the window and threw him to his death.
Derrick, who was eight at the time, gave heartbreaking testimony at the trial, telling jurors that he ran down the fourteen flights of stairs as fast as he could, in hopes that he could catch his brother before he hit the ground.
Seventeen years later, he stood before a judge again, this time to receive a 71-year sentence in the murder of his aunt's boyfriend in March 2006.
At a family barbecue, Lemon was choking his aunt, according to prosecutors, during a heated dispute. Illya Glover, her boyfriend, came to her defense. Lemon shot and killed him.
Prosecutors argued for leniency, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, based on the tragic incident Lemon witnessed as a boy. But Judge Thomas Hennelly was unmoved, arguing that "he'd been given every opportunity as an adult to turn his troubled life around," the Sun-Times writes.
Even at a young age, the trauma of his brother's death clearly had an impact on Lemon's behavior. LeAlan Jones and Lloyd Newman, two high schoolers living in the Wells project who made audio documentaries about their lives and their neighborhood, went to interview Morse's mother Toni and Derrick Lemmon in 1995. His mother spoke of Derrick's newfound anger:
JONES: How do you think Derrick's life's changed since the incident?
MORSE: He do a lot of fighting now, something he ain't never did. Tell him you rebellious. You like to fight people now.
LEMON: Fight. Throw crayons.
NEWMAN: You get your anger out by fighting?
MORSE: Maybe he's lashing out. I don't know. Probably he's lashing out, because at a time he wouldn't fight. Him or Eric. They would run from people.
Lemon, now 24, has spent much of his adult life in trouble with the law. Now, as Assistant State's Attorney Andreana Turano told the Chicago Tribune, he'll be serving 100 percent of his 71-year sentence, meaning that he's likely to spend the rest of it in prison.