COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — The blood of a 22-year-old Chicago woman brutally slain in 2009 is on the hands of her husband and brother-in-law, according to verdicts issued Friday by two juries.
Almost four years after Kenyatae Collier-Brewer's body was found stuffed in the trunk of a car, two bullets in her head, jurors convicted her husband, Darron Brewer, and brother-in-law, Dujuan Powe, of first-degree murder.
Family members of Collier-Brewer, called "Tae" for short by loved ones, packed a Cook County courtroom this week as prosecutors laid out the details of the murder plot, displaying photos of the young woman's body when police found her crammed inside the trunk of Brewer's car.
"It's a just verdict," said Kenneth Collier, Collier-Brewer's father. "She was just a loving person. We aren't the same family we were before this happened; we'll never be the same."
Cook County prosecutors argued that Brewer, who had come out of the closet as gay prior to the murder, hatched a plot with his younger brother to kill Brewer's 22-year-old wife and collect on a $205,000 spousal life insurance policy provided through his employer, the U.S. National Guard.
Brewer, now 26, and his younger brother, Powe, whose nickname is "Scooter," devised a murder plot in early October 2009, but they failed in their first attempt, prosecutors said. Powe was supposed to surprise Collier-Brewer in her home in the 3700 block of West Belden Avenue and "choke her to death."
"He saw her coming out of the bathroom, he couldn't do it," Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Jeff Allen said. "Instead of killing her, [he] had sex with her, consensual sex."
After Collier-Brewer "cried rape" to her husband, the two brothers plotted a fake carjacking that would end with her slaying, he said.
On Oct. 25, 2009, Collier-Brewer picked up her husband and their two children on the South Side after getting off work, aiming to drive the family to their Logan Square home, Allen said. Her husband took the wheel while she dozed in the front seat.
Brewer took a detour, going more than a mile out of his way to get gas at a station at 59th Street and Racine Avenue.
There Powe, wearing a mask from the movie "Scream," ambushed the family and forced Collier-Brewer at gunpoint into the car trunk, Allen said.
The incident, captured by a surveillance system, ultimately proved to be Brewer's undoing, he said.
About 24 hours later, police discovered Collier-Brewer's body after her husband reported her missing and provided the location in the 2200 block of North Tripp Avenue.
She suffered two gunshots to her head, "messengers of death," as prosecutors referred to them.
In a videotaped confession played for jurors, Darron Brewer admitted to his role in the murder plot and then curled up in a ball on the floor sobbing.
"Brewer said it was supposed to be a carjacking, it was supposed to happen in the alley. (But) Scooter f----d it up," Allen told jurors on Thursday.
Brewer told police in the confession that he and Powe conspired to kill his wife not for the insurance money but because she had threatened to tell police that Powe raped her.
Brewer "planned it, and they did it," Allen said, asking jurors to find both men guilty of Collier-Brewer's murder.
Attorneys for both Brewer and Powe maintained throughout the trial that their clients were innocent of the charges, arguing in turn that the other brother is the killer.
Brewer's attorneys have said he was openly gay and no longer in love with his wife, but he did not want the woman dead.
"Scooter had his own plan. Scooter comes up with a mask and and gun ... and he pulls a carjacking," said defense attorney Rebecca Washtenaw. "Darron puts his head in the sand."
Powe's public defender Brian Walsh told jurors earlier this week that his client "was not in on the plan, did not take part in the plan."
Powe's brother "wanted out of his relationship so bad he wanted to kill her," Walsh said.
Brewer and Powe could face life in prison. Sentencing hearings for the two brothers will likely be held sometime next month.