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Man Charged In Dajae’s Murder Pleads Not Guilty on 153 Counts

Wesley Woodson, 20, is charged with the shooting death of 14-year-old Dajae Coleman on Saturday, Sept. 22. He entered a plea in Cook County Circuit Court on Tuesday.

The Evanston man charged with the shooting death of 14-year-old Evanston Township High School freshman Dajae Coleman pled not guilty to 153 felony counts in Cook County Circuit Court on Tuesday.

The State’s Attorney’s Office charged Wesley Woodson, 20, with first-degree murder and aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, among multiple other counts, after police say he fired a gun at Dajae and his friends as they were walking home from a party Sept. 22. Evanston police say Woodson, who has gang affiliations, mistook Dajae for someone he knew, and described the shooting as “a retaliatory act upon an innocent group of teens with no gang affiliations.”  

Woodson is charged not just with felony counts in Dajae’s death but also on behalf of the group of students who were walking home with their friend the night he was shot. Police say Woodson fired four shots from a 9-millimeter weapon at the group, and as they started to run away, Dajae was shot in the back.

Related: Details Released in Prior Weapons Case of Evanston Murder Suspect

“I was shocked there was that many counts, but I’m glad because something is going to stick,” said Dajae’s grandfather, Michael Rice, who attended the court appearance along with other family members, including Dajae’s mother. “Considering what he did, there can’t be too many counts.”

Dajae’s aunt, Katie Thomas, said that her nephew, an honor student who hoped to play basketball for ETHS, was excited to start high school this fall. She noted that he had completed just two weeks of his freshman year when he died.

“This is a kid, he didn’t have a chance to do anything wrong,” she said. “Whatever [Woodson] gets, he deserves. Because Dae Dae would never get to his age.”

During the hearing, Judge Garritt Howard remarked on the large number of felony counts. But assistant state’s attorney Michele Gemskie explained later that many of the counts were simply different ways of charging the same thing, and given the number of kids who were present when Dajae was shot, the counts quickly multiplied.

“There’s lots of victims,” she said.

Woodson is next scheduled to appear in court at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 12, in room 206 at Cook County Circuit Court in Skokie, 5600 Old Orchard Rd.

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Dan Cox November 09, 2012 at 01:20 AM
We are all victim's of this tragic crime. We will never get to know Dejae Coleman, we will never know the contribution's that he would have made to our live's, we will never know his children or have experienced what they may have done to make our world a better place to live in. We all, lost much more than we will ever know.

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