www.redeyechicago.com/news/crime/chi-basketball-stars-death-deemed-homicide-20130629,0,2497230.story

redeyechicago.com

Brother held on $1M bail in killing of South Side basketball standout

By Rosemary Regina Sobol and Jennifer Delgado

Tribune reporters

3:51 PM CDT, June 30, 2013

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After the older brother of a 16-year-old high school basketball standout fatally shot his sibling Friday, he attempted to cover up his tracks by shooting out a window and moving his brother's body to another room in their South Shore home, prosecutors said today.

Michael D. Whitney had taken the semi-automatic handgun belonging to their security guard father from a drawer, took the clip out of the gun, and began taunting his younger brother Malcolm as the Hyde Park Academy player was preparing for basketball practice, according to police and prosecutors.

As Whitney, 19, continued his taunts, the younger brother reached for the gun, which discharged. The one bullet still in the chamber struck Malcolm in the head in their home on the 7500 block of South Kingston Avenue, prosecutors said.

As the boy lay on the bathroom floor, the older brother then began trying to devise a coverup by replacing the clip and shooting the bathroom window. Then, he moved his brother's body to the living room couch, prosecutors said.

When police arrived, Whitney tried to blame an unknown shooter, saying someone had shot through the bathroom window and wounded his brother, prosecutors said. Eventually, he told police he was responsible.

Today Michael Whitney appeared in Cook County criminal court, where his bail was set after being charged with involuntary manslaughter and unlawful use of a weapon by a felon.

Before setting the bail amount, Circuit Court Judge Adam Bourgeois Jr. said, "The problem is, this tragedy would not have occurred if a convicted felon had not touched a firearm."

Michael Whitney hung his head low as prosecutors detailed the slaying and cried. After the judge set bail, Whitney grabbed his shirt and wiped away tears from his eyes as he headed back to jail.

Outside the courtroom, friends and family members of Whitney huddled in small circles, crying as they hug one another. They declined to comment.

Malcolm Whitney was pronounced dead at 10:34 a.m. that day at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, according to a spokesman for the Cook County medical examiner's office.

The medical examiner's office had officially ruled Saturday that Malcolm Whitney's death was a homicide, after an autopsy that found Whitney died of a gunshot wound to the head.

Whitney initially told police that his younger brother had been in the home's bathroom preparing for basketball practice when he heard two gunshots that had gone through the bathroom window.

Under further questioning, Michael Whitney changed his story, saying he had been playing with his father's handgun, had pointed it at his brother and fired two shots, the police report said. Prosecutors indicated in court that only one shot struck the younger boy.

Malcolm Whitney, who was found face down on a sofa in the front living room area of the home when police arrived, was hit in the left ear and the left side of his head, according to the police report. The victim's father is an armed security guard, the report said.

"Little Malcolm," as his teammates nicknamed him, was a standout basketball guard with a 3.8 grade point average, who was a "great kid to be around" as well as a "great shooter" on the team, said his coach, Hyde Park Academy basketball coach Antonne Samuels.

"He just scored 30 points -- in back-to-back games -- this week during our summer league," said Samuels.

Earlier this month, the teen also was invited to and attended a weekend "elite player camp" at the University of Southern California, Samuels said Friday afternoon.

The boy was headed into his junior year at Hyde Park.

"He would have been my star player this year," the coach said.

"He really could shoot the ball. Also, he was a great student-athlete because he had a 3.8 out of a 4.0 grade point average," according to Samuels, who added that his family would attend his games regularly.

"He had a great support system. He liked school, basketball and his family."

He'd only just recently, within the last six months or so, gotten to his height of 5 feet, 10 inches.

"He was short, he was really around 5-4 or 5-5 … he just sprouted up," Samuels said. "But he was still known as 'Little Malcolm.' "

Samuels said he'd received a call from the school's principal late Friday morning, letting him know about the death. "They just told me they got a call and they weren't sure what happened."

rsobol@tribune.com
Twitter: @RosemarySobol1

jdelgado@tribune.com
Twitter: @jendelgado1