ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner and St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief John Hayden Jr. sat side-by-side Friday to discuss the successful prosecution of a case that sent shockwaves through the St. Louis community last year.
A St. Louis jury found Jerome Buress Jr. guilty of two counts of first-degree murder, one count of second-degree murder, one count of assault, and four counts of armed criminal action.
The shooting left 7-year-old Deniya Irving in critical condition. Buress shot and killed Irving’s parents, Jessica Garth and Derrick Irving. Buress also murdered Julius Hayes, Deniya’s uncle.
Gardner was newly elected when the murders took place. Hayden had yet to become police chief. Gardner, Hayden, and their departments went door to door in the Walnut Park East neighborhood where the killings occurred to find witnesses. They said it wasn’t easy, even though the murders happened in broad daylight and Gardner estimated there were more than 40 potential witnesses.
“We have to solve these murders,” said Gardner. “We have to hold violent individuals accountable and we’re going to put the full weight of both of our offices to address violent crime.”
Some witnesses eventually came forward in the case.
“A lot of hard-working people really wanted to bring this to a proper conclusion and this is an example of a success,” said Hayden.
Deniya’s little sister was one of the witnesses who took the stand describing how her big sister covered her up to protect her. Deniya was shot in the head but has since made a miraculous recovery.
Hayden and Gardner understand why witnesses are reluctant to come forward. They wanted to remind everyone about the St. Louis Regional CrimeStoppers tip line. http://stlrcs.org/ Anyone calling 866-371-TIPS (8477) can remain anonymous.