Deonlashawn Simmons would receive a 105 year prison sentence for the murder of fourteen year old Takaylah Tribitt who was found dead in Gary Indiana. According to court documents Takaylah Tribitt had runaway from home when she encountered Deonlashawn Simmons at a birthday party in Chicago. Five days later Deonlashawn Simmons would tie up and bound the fourteen year old girl before she was fatally shot. Deonlashawn Simmons would dump the body near his home and covered her with garbage bags. Deonlashawn Simmons would be arrested and later convicted which ultimately led to the 105 year prison sentence ensuring he is going to die behind bars.
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Deonlashawn Simmons, 36, was sentenced Thursday by a Lake County judge in Takaylah Tribitt’s September 2019 killing. The Chicago girl’s body was found facedown with her hands bound behind her with cords
A jury convicted Simmons of murder in March and he subsequently admitted to firearm and habitual offender enhancements. He has maintained his innocence and said Thursday he would appeal.
Tribbit, who was a runaway, was found in Gary not far from where Simmons’ family lived, according to court documents. Her body was found five days after she and Simmons met at a birthday party in Chicago.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Doug Shaw, who called Tribbit’s death an “execution,” asked for the maximum 105 year sentence, saying “that’s all the law allows us.” He said the circumstances surrounding Tribitt’s death were some of the cruelest he’s seen.
Tribitt was a “defenseless child,” Shaw said.
Simmons’ attorney, Michael A. Campbell, had asked for a 56-year sentence, with five years suspended in favor of probation.
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A judge told a Chicago man he had shown himself to be dishonest, antisocial and predatory before sentencing him Thursday to a maximum of 105 years in prison for killing a 14-year-old girl in 2019.
Deonlashawn Simmons, 36, was convicted of murder after a jury trial in March and subsequently admitted to firearm and habitual offender enhancements.
Evidence presented at trial showed 14-year-old Takaylah Tribitt was a runaway who met Simmons on Sept. 8, 2019, at a girl’s birthday party in Chicago.
Despite Simmons’ claim he was trying to help Tribitt, her last Facebook location was recorded at 1:27 a.m. Sept. 14, 2019, in the area of Simmons’ relative’s home on Chicago’s South Side.
Tribitt, who was known to her family as “Ladybug,” was found dead about 9 a.m. Sept. 16, 2019, in an alley near East 20th Avenue and Pennsylvania Street in Gary. She was facedown and had automotive cords tied around her neck and wrists, which were bound behind her back
DNA from two males was found on the cord wrapped around her wrists, and one of the profiles matched Deonlashawn Simmons.
Investigators also determined Tribitt had been sexually assaulted multiple times, but Lake County prosecutors did not charge him with any sex crimes as part of their case
Lake Criminal Court Judge Natalie Bokota said Tribitt was bound with a cord and robbed of any opportunity to act in self-defense or attempt escape.
“She was dumped in an alley, among the accumulating trash,” the judge said. “She was discarded like garbage.”
Tribitt’s mother, Laura Tribitt, said she had to forgive Simmons as part of her own healing process but God would never forgive him.
“She was 14,” Laura Tribitt said. “She was a baby. I don’t want to say no more. I don’t really want to look at him.
Another relative, Felisha Vernado, said Simmons was a predator and a coward, because he would never have killed a grown woman the way he murdered Tribitt.
“Whatever Ladybug had going on, you took her opportunity to get it right,” Vernado said. “I don’t forgive you. If there was a death penalty, I think you should have it.”
Lake County Deputy Prosecutor Douglas Shaw, who tried the case with Deputy Prosecutor Arturo Balcazar and intern Lindsey Lanham, said he would have asked for more than a maximum sentence of 105 years if the law allowed.
Shaw said it was difficult to imagine what Tribitt might have gone through before she was killed.
She was shot once in the front of her head at point-blank range, so Simmons was the last person she saw.
“I can’t imagine a murder that’s more aggravated than the execution of a defenseless child,” he said.
Deonlashawn Simmons admitted during his presentence investigation he has 25 children, but only knows the names of nine of them, Shaw said.
“That is abuse,” he said. “That is a complete disrespect for women and a complete disregard for children in general.”
Simmons didn’t even know he had some of the children until their biological mothers showed up on his mother’s doorstep, Shaw said.
Simmons had three juvenile adjudications at age 15 and five felony convictions, including promoting prostitution.
He was on parole in Illinois when he killed Tribitt. Every chance he’s had at probation, he failed, Shaw said.
“This is a person that cannot ever be released,” he said. “I don’t want a 95-year-old Deonlashawn Simmons on the street. I don’t trust that.
Shaw said a maximum sentence would protect society, so “our children and our children’s children don’t ever have to worry about him.”
Simmons’ attorney, Michael A. Campbell, said Simmons respected the jury’s verdict but maintained his innocence.
He conceded Simmons’ criminal history was significant, but argued Simmons had not previously been convicted of shooting anyone or attempting to kill.
Bokota declined to show leniency because Simmons’ imprisonment could cause an undue hardship for his children, noting he had been accused of molesting or battering two of them.
Campbell asked the judge not to consider those accusations, which he described as “pure speculation.” Simmons has never been charged with causing harm to his children, he said.
The defense attorney urged the judge to show some leniency, because Simmons grew up without his father and lost his brother in a homicide several years ago in Chicago.
Campbell asked for a 56-year sentence, with five years suspended in favor of probation.
Simmons offered his condolences to Tribitt’s friends and family in a brief statement. Before Bokota pronounced sentence, he said he wanted to appeal.
Bokota said it was clear from Simmons’ interviews with police that he lied at least once, when confronted with evidence that he was in Northwest Indiana around the time of Tribitt’s murder.
Several members of Tribitt’s family began clapping when Bokota sentenced Simmons to 105 years, but the judge held up a finger and said, “No. No. No.”
The dignity of the court must always be upheld, she said.