Convict Two in Basketball Star’s Death
CHICAGO (AP) _ Two teen-agers were convicted Friday in the November shooting death of a nationally recruited high school basketball star outside a South Side video games arcade.
A Circuit Court jury deliberated less than two hours before finding Omar Dixon and William Moore, both 16, guilty of murder in the sidewalk death of Ben Wilson.
Wilson, a Parade Magazine all-star and senior at Simeon High School, was shot Nov. 20 during the school lunch hour. The 17-year-old was buried in the uniform he wore in leading his school to a state championship.
Dixon and Moore face 20 to 40 years in prison when sentenced on the murder charges, said Sharon Conway, an administrative assistant in the State’s Attorney’s Office. The two also were convicted of attempted robbery.
In closing arguments Friday, Assistant State’s Attorney Art Hill said Dixon and Moore were ″were going to get some guy who had offended William Moore’s cousin.″
″They were not having fun, they were not playing hookey,″ said Hill. ″They went from game room to game room to game room looking for someone.″
But Dixon’s attorney, Brian Dosch, said the defendants, who attended nearby Calumet High School, would have to have been ″goofy to stick up the biggest guy they ever saw.
″Not only the biggest guy they ever saw, but at noon. Not only at noon, but at lunch for Simeon High School.″
Moore never testified, but his attorney, Isaiah Gant, said the 5-foot-9, 130-pound high school sophomore was only trying to defend himself against the 6-7, 240-pound senior.
Hill told the jury Wilson and his girlfriend were trying to get around a gang of youths blocking a sidewalk when Dixon tried to rob Wilson. Moore stood by with a gun, the prosecutor said.
The prosecutor said Dixon told Moore to shoot Wilson after the victim shoved Dixon into a fence.
Hill described Wilson as a polite young man who asked to be excused as he and his girlfriend tried to pass the group.
But Dosch contended Wilson was a belligerent bully who could have been having a bad day.
″This is a guy who’s capable of flying through the air and putting a ball through a basket,″ Dosch told the jury. ″Benjamin Wilson was like a giant. Maybe his head was too big.″
He also said police were pressured to come up with suspects in a hurry because of Wilson’s reputation.
Outside the courtroom, the slain youth’s father, Benjamin Wilson Sr., said of the trial, ″I think it was a beautiful thing, but I’m glad it’s over.″
Wilson’s former coach, Bob Hambric, said later that the Simeon star was being scouted ″by every major university in the country.″
DePaul University, the University of Illinois and Indiana University - three of the top basketball schools in the nation - were particularly interested in Wilson, who had not announced his choice at the time of his death.
″He’s like my son. He’s a nice kid,″ Hambric said shortly after Wilson’s murder. The coach said Wilson had been averaging about 20 points a game in his senior year, and had led Simeon to a 30-1 record and a state championship the year before.