DANVILLE – A Danville man was sentenced to life in prison for an eastern Illinois triple killing, and the judge lambasted his eye rolls, yawns and occasional laughter while being addressed by the victims’ relatives.
Vermilion County Circuit Judge Nancy Fahey told Jerome Harris, 29, during his court hearing Monday that his conduct toward the victims’ families reflected his lack of remorse for the 2007 shooting deaths of three people, the Champaign News-Gazette reported.
“There is absolutely no excuse,” Fahey told Harris, referring to the Danville man’s killings of 30-year-old Rodney Pepper of Chicago, and 21-year-old Ta’Breyon McCullough and 19-year-old Madisen Leverenz, both of Danville. “It is absolutely despicable, and the sentences are so appropriate.”
When given the opportunity to speak before hearing his sentence, Harris was unapologetic.
“I didn’t have nothing to do with happened,” he said during a rambling statement. “That’s all I got to say.”
Jurors deliberated three hours in April before convicting Harris, who faced a mandatory life sentence. He already was serving 25 years in state prison for drug-related crimes.
Prosecutors said Pepper and Leverenz were hiding a large amount of cocaine they stole from McCullough, part of which had been sold for $12,000. McCullough had agreed to keep the drugs for her boyfriend, a drug dealer named Freddell L. Bryant from Chicago.
McCullough searched for Leverenz and found her, along with Pepper, at Pepper’s apartment the morning of March 25, 2007. The killers arrived a short time later.
Bryant was convicted of murder in the killings in 2012 and is serving three consecutive life sentences.
Harris’ attorney argued at trial that although her client was a drug dealer, he wasn’t the killer and was elsewhere selling drugs at the time of the shooting.
During Monday’s hearing, Leverenz’s father, Mac Leverenz, told Harris that seven years since the killing, “the pain is still there” and “you really need to die for what you did.”