15-year-old charged in killing; bond set at $1 million

Dekalb Daily Chronicle - March 30, 2006

DeKALB - A 15-year-old DeKalb boy has been charged with first-degree murder in what police are calling a gang-related dispute between two people with a history of “bad blood.”

Max J. Keding was charged late Wednesday afternoon in the Tuesday evening shooting death of 19-year-old Jayson Martin, also of DeKalb, in front of an empty Seventh Street storefront.

Handcuffed and wearing blue scrubs, Keding appeared in court this morning for the first time on the charge. He was accompanied by his parents. Judge Robbin Stuckert set his bond at $1 million.

Keding is being held at a juvenile detention center in St. Charles. If convicted, he faces up to 50 years in prison on the murder charge.

The Chronicle typically does not print the names of people under the age of 17 who are charged with crimes, but chose to do so in this instance because of the seriousness of the crime. Under state statute, Keding must be charged as an adult and both the DeKalb County State's Attorney's office and DeKalb police are identifying him by name.

Martin was pronounced dead at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Kishwaukee Community Hospital in DeKalb after being shot several times in the chest. Police have not recovered the murder weapon but Chief Bill Feithen said Wednesday it is likely a small caliber handgun, possibly a .22.

Early Wednesday, the city streets department and fire department had men in cherry pickers looking for the weapon on building roofs along Seventh near Oak Street.

Feithen said he doesn't knew where Keding got the gun.

Details of shooting sketchy

Details of what led up to the shooting remain unclear.

Feithen said that a man driving by Seventh and Oak streets Tuesday evening called 911 after seeing six or seven men beating Martin.

Three or four carloads of teenagers in the area reportedly were with Martin and Keding also had a handful of people in the area, Feithen said. At least two individual disputes broke out, he said.

Martin was a “self-professed” member of the Gangster Disciples and Keding had writings in his bedroom indicating his alliance with the Latin Kings and also was wearing the group's colors Tuesday, Feithen said. Martin's family, however, say he was not a member of the gang, but acknowledge he had friends and associates who are.

When police arrived, they found Martin had been shot and Keding reportedly had fled the scene.

While they were investigating, police received a call from a DeKalb woman a few blocks north who said her son, Keding, had been shot. He was treated at Kishwaukee Community Hospital for an apparently self-inflicted gun-shot wound to his arm. In court this morning, Keding's left forearm was bandaged.

It appears Keding shot himself during the struggle and that he was the only person with a real gun who was there, Feithen said. Three toy guns were found at the scene, but it wasn't clear what role they played in the altercation.

“We're not hearing any information at this point that it was a pre-arranged deal,” Feithen said of the dispute. “And we're really getting some mixed signals of what may have caused it. ... There was bad blood between some of these people for a while.”

Victim, alleged killer had criminal backgrounds

Both Keding and Martin have had run-ins with the law. Keding is an “adjudicated minor,” meaning he has been found to have committed a crime as a juvenile. At the time of the shooting, he was on probation stemming from an aggravated battery charge.

DeKalb Det. Gary Spangler also told Martin's family Wednesday night that Keding was one of the kids involved in a fight at DeKalb High School in December. Two unnamed 15-year-olds were charged with aggravated battery in that incident. State's Attorney Ron Matekaitis said Keding had been found guilty of aggravated battery, although he declined to say what incident the charge was related to.

According to court records and Feithen, Martin was wanted on a warrant - issued Monday - for criminal damage to property for allegedly breaking the cell phone owned by an ex-girlfriend. He also had two 2003 convictions for disorderly conduct.

First degree murder, a Class S Felony, is punishable by up to 50 years in a penitentiary. Keding also faces three charges of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon - for carrying a pistol as a court-determined juvenile delinquent, as a street gang member and as someone under 21 - and possession of a firearm without a firearm owner's identification card.

Each count of use of a weapon is punishable by up to three years in a penitentiary and possession of a firearm without a FOID card is punishable by up to five years.

Matekaitis said Keding will be tried as an adult and will be treated as an adult in every manner, except that he will be housed at a juvenile detention center.

Little gang activity locally

Feithen said retaliation for the death is possible, but police are being vigilant and this community is still a safe place.

“It's amazing how low gang activity is - certainly any gang activity is cause for concern - but when you look at the amount of gang activity that surrounds DeKalb County, we have a low amount,” Feithen said. He said that with the city's proximity to the tollway, Chicago, Aurora, Elgin and Rockford, he would expect more gang activity.

The last murder in DeKalb, which was unrelated to gang violence, was in April 2002, when Willie Spates killed his wife, Anita Spates.

Matekaitis can't remember the last time a juvenile was charged with murder in the county, which is “fortunate for DeKalb County.”

“We're still a very safe community,” he said.

In Illinois in 2004, the most recent year for which statistics are available, 615 people under the age of 17 were sentenced to prison for violent crimes, according to the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority.

Feithen has no recollection from his 31 years with the department of a minor being charged with murder in the city of DeKalb.

DeKalb Police are asking people with information about the shooting or the weapon to call them at (815) 748-8400 or Crime Stoppers at (815) 895-3272.

Staff writers Aracely Hernandez and Dana Herra contributed to this story. Renee Messacar can be reached at rmessacar@daily-chronicle.com.