Second man convicted in student's death

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Associated Press

ST. CHARLES, Ill. -- A Kane County jury has convicted a second man of first-degree murder for an April 2005 robbery that resulted in the shooting death of a 19-year-old who made a panicked 911 call from the trunk of his mother's car before he was killed.

After five hours of deliberation Late Friday, the jurors also found Armin Henderson, 27, guilty of armed robbery, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated vehicular hijacking in the death of Elgin Community College student David Steeves Jr.

Earlier Friday, Circuit Judge Philip DiMarzio excused a male juror. The man told DiMarzio that he had a problem with the case and had not been able to sleep. He asked to be excused because he felt he could not continue to be a fair juror. An alternate was put in his place.

In August, a co-defendant, Robert Guyton Jr., 25, of Rockford, was convicted of first-degree murder and aggravated kidnapping during a bench trial. He was sentenced to 56 years in prison.

Steeves was shot in the head the evening of April 8, 2005, during a blotched armed robbery. Prosecutors said Henderson and Guyton were at a friend's Elgin apartment when Steeves arrived to sell a friend some marijuana.

According to testimony, Guyton brought up the idea of robbing Steeves, asking Henderson "are you down with it?" The two then waited in the parking lot until Steeves left the apartment.

Henderson told police that Steeves refused to turn over the cash, so he was shot in the leg.

He was then forced into the trunk of his mother's car, prosecutors said. He then dialed 911 on his mother's cell phone.

When his captors heard the call, they pulled over and shot Steeves in the face, authorities said. Steeves' body was found in the trunk nearly a week later in the parking lot of a Rockford apartment complex.

Transcripts of the 911 call indicate Steeves did not initially tell police he was in the trunk or had been shot but pleaded with a dispatcher to send help to the street before being disconnected. When the dispatcher called him back seconds later, Steeves provided his name, described the car and said he was in its trunk before being disconnected again.

A search began the following day after an Elgin resident found a pool of blood and a bloody sneaker on the street Steeves had called from.

Henderson's attorney, Ron Haskell said Guyton was responsible for the crime.

Haskell said Henderson tried to talk Guyton out of killing Steeves, and that Guyton pulled the trigger.

But Kane County State's Attorney John Barsanti said that wasn't feasible because Henderson drove the car from Elgin to Rockford with a dead body in the trunk.

During Henderson's five-day trial, jurors heard tapes of the 911 calls that Steeves made from the trunk. Prosecutors also played a video of Henderson's interview with Elgin detectives.

Henderson's sentencing was scheduled for Dec. 15.

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