1/27/2017 12:55:00 PM Woman found not guilty in high-profile gun case
CHICAGO (AP) — A Chicago woman was found not guilty Thursday of supplying her teenage cousin with a gun that authorities say the girl used to kill a 14-year-old rival after a Facebook feud over a boy.
Vandetta Redwood, 35, was charged in federal court with giving a handgun to a juvenile knowing it would be used to commit violence. She also was charged with possession of a firearm in a school zone. She faced a maximum 15-year prison term had she been convicted.
“I just want to tell the Martin family that I’m sorry for their loss,” a tearful Redwood told reporters outside the courtroom after the verdict. “And I’m sorry.”
The jury verdict is a setback for federal prosecutors, who took up the case as part of efforts to combat the gun violence that plagues Chicago. President Donald Trump has made Chicago gun violence an issue in recent days, saying he would “send in the Feds” if city officials don’t fix the horrible “carnage” he says is going on in the city.
Prosecutors alleged Redwood’s then-14-year-old cousin opened fire with a .38-caliber revolver and shot 14-year-old Endia Martin in the back as the victim fled in April 2014. A 16-year-old girl was wounded. Redwood’s cousin, who is now 17, is awaiting trial in juvenile court.
Redwood shouted and cursed during the prosecution’s closing arguments on Wednesday. She said she “didn’t kill no baby,” and said other people lied. Jurors were excused while Redwood’s lawyer sought to calm her down.
“I’m just tore up inside, that’s it,” Redwood said Thursday of her ordeal. “I’m still stressed out.”
At issue was whether the 35-year-old Redwood actually handed the gun to her cousin. A shaky cellphone video of the incident featured heavily in testimony during the federal court trial.
Prosecutors have said Redwood contacted her and her cousin’s uncle, Donnell Flora, who police said was a gang member confined to a wheelchair. Flora was convicted of first degree murder for his role in supplying the girl the gun. He was sentenced to 100 years in prison.
At his trial, Flora said when he gave the weapon to his younger niece, he told her to give it to Redwood. Authorities said that the girl gave the weapon to Redwood, but that Redwood gave it back to her moments before Endia was shot. Flora said he was trying to protect his niece when he gave her the weapon. He apologized for his actions at his sentencing.
Flora testified that he brought the gun to the confrontation but didn’t mean for it to end up in his niece’s hands. Prosecutors argued that if it wasn’t for Flora, the gun wouldn’t have been at the scene and Endia would be alive.
Redwood was charged shortly after the shooting by Cook County prosecutors with mob action and obstruction of justice. At the time, investigators alleged that Redwood encouraged the suspect and other teenagers about to fight Endia. A judge later dismissed those charges.