Posted on September 14, 2011

Three, Including 15-Year-Old, Formally Charged with Murder in Shooting Death of Rutherford

Huey Freeman, Herald-Review (Decatur), September 9, 2011

Three suspects who were arrested last week in connection with the shooting death of 24-year-old Billy J. Rutherford were each charged Thursday with three counts of first-degree murder.


Shitavious J. Cook, 15, was arraigned Thursday morning on his charges, punishable by up to life imprisonment.

He also was charged with attempted first-degree murder and aggravated battery with a firearm for a shotgun attack on a motorcyclist who Cook mistakenly believed to be Rutherford.

Felton T. Estes, 28, and Demeco D. Hill, 35, are each facing 20 to 60 years in prison, with a 15-year enhancement for carrying a firearm during the crime. {snip}

On his first-degree murder charges, Cook is facing 20 to 60 years plus 25 years to life for shooting a firearm that was the proximate cause of death. {snip}

Cook allegedly admitted to police that he shot Rutherford with a shotgun.

According to Illinois law, defendants who are 15 and older are automatically tried as adults when charged with first-degree murder or any charges arising out of the same incident.


According to statements made to the police, Rutherford was shot because he “had been stealing drug-related money from Estes, and Rutherford had made threats against Cook’s life,” according to a complaint for an arrest warrant. {snip}


During an interview with police, Cook said he went to the alley after hearing the gunshots. He saw Rutherford lying on the ground, with Estes near his body. Hill was not in sight.

Cook told police that Estes then gave him a shotgun and told him to shoot Rutherford. Cook then fired one round at Rutherford.

Police were told Hill fired the initial gunshots in the alley.

Cook told police during his interview that they could find spent 9 mm casings at the scene. The police had already located three 9 mm casings, a detail they had not released.

During his arraignment, Cook, a 5-foot-6-inch, 140-pound teen, sat in the jury box in the custody of juvenile probation officers. {snip}

Cook, who was arrested 23½ hours after the shooting, admitted to police that he shot Rutherford with a shotgun but said he did so after Rutherford was dead, according to a sworn statement by a police officer.


Cook’s charges of attempted murder and aggravated battery stem from an incident that occurred five days before the homicide.

At 11:54 p.m. Aug. 24, a 31-year-old man was shot while riding his motorcycle east on Grand Avenue, at Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. The victim told police he heard that a 15-year-old male, nicknamed “Tay,” was the shooter.

Cook, whose nickname is “Tay,” admitted he shot a shotgun at a man who was riding a black-and-yellow motorcycle at Grand Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. {snip}

Cook said the intended target of that shooting was Rutherford, who he said had made threats against his life.