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Jonylah Watkins Slaying: Gang Member Held Without Bail in Baby's Death

By  Erin Meyer and Darryl Holliday | May 28, 2013 12:16pm | Updated on May 28, 2013 2:34pm

 Koman Willis (upper r.), 33, of the 7800 block of South St. Lawrence Avenue, has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of 6-month-old Jonylah Watkins.
Koman Willis (upper r.), 33, of the 7800 block of South St. Lawrence Avenue, has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of 6-month-old Jonylah Watkins.
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Handout/Chicago Police Department

COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — A man accused of killing 6-month-old Jonylah Watkins was ordered held without bond during a Tuesday hearing, where prosecutors laid out their case against him.

Koman Willis, 33, was charged Monday with first-degree murder in the slaying of Jonylah, who was fatally shot on March 11 with her father, who police said was targeted for stealing a PlayStation game console belonging to the alleged shooter.

Willis, who has been arrested 38 times and is a documented gang member, also was charged with aggravated battery with a firearm, police said.

Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Heather Kent said Jonylah's father was changing her diaper in a van in the 5600 block of South Maryland Avenue and "lifted Jonylah up to kiss her" when Willis approached and started shooting.

Kent said witnesses heard gunshots and saw a man dart into a van parked in a nearby alley. The getaway vehicle sped north toward 63rd Street and then east.

Chicago Police "blue light" surveillance cameras captured video of a Chrysler Town & Country van owned by Willis' girlfriend, Kent said. Right after the shooting, Willis allegedly arranged to hide the van in a friend's garage. 

Willis also allegedly told someone about the shooting, admitting that he spotted Watkins — Willis  suspected Watkins of burglarizing his home — got his gun and followed him until he found an opportunity to strike.

"[Willis] admitted to ... opening fire on the unsuspecting victims," Kent said.

The bullet that struck Jonylah in the left armpit ripped through her torso. She died at Comer Children's Hospital. Jonylah's father, Jonathan Watkins, survived three gunshot wounds.

Kent said Willis believed Watkins was involved in a burglary at his mother's house about a month before the shooting. Drugs and the video game console were among the items allegedly stolen.

According to Kent, Willis had sworn to "shoot the people responsible."

Early reports that Jonylah's father, Jonathan Watkins, had been changing the baby's diaper at the time of the shooting were later refuted by police, who characterized the information as erroneous. But according to prosecutors on Tuesday, the diaper-changing story is accurate.

Robert Fisher, an attorney representing Willis, said Monday after a court hearing that "This is the first we've heard about the facts." Fisher added that his client maintains his innocence.

While prosecutors alleged that Willis made third-party admissions, his attorney said he's made no statements to police.

At his request, Cook County Judge Israel Desierto postponed Willis' bond hearing until June 6. He will be held until then without bail. 

Willis, who goes by the name "Ko Killer" on the street, has a criminal record that includes arrests dating back to 1998.

He was charged with attempted murder of a police officer with a firearm in 2002. Willis plead guilty to aggravated assault and other lesser charges in that case and was sentenced to three years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.