CHICAGO (CBS) — Relatives passed by cameras with no comment Thursday after a not guilty verdict in the murder of a two-year-old boy.
In September of 2015, the body of Kyrian Knox was found dismembered in a Garfield Park lagoon on Chicago’s West Side.
Testifying in his own defense, Kamel Harris claimed he was caring for Knox but handed the boy over to three people with the approval of the boy’s mother.
Harris’ attorneys argued those informants lied to help their own cases and said the not guilty verdict is the right one.
Harris walked out of the Cook County Jail after two and a half years.
The jury reached its decision after eight hours.
“The moment I met Kamel I knew he was not guilty,” said Julie Koehler, Harris’ public defender.
She insists the prosecution’s case was weak from the start.
“There was no physical evidence. There was no statement,” she said.
But she said there were early indications someone else might be responsible, claiming Harris told detectives he had been watching Kyrian for about two weeks when two people named Jerome and Theresa came to his home.
“He walked over, and Jerome introduced himself and said, ‘Hey, we’re here to pick up Kyrian,” Koehler said. “Theresa handed him a cell phone, and the mother was on the other end of the cell phone, and she said, ‘Hey Mr. Harris, this is Lanisha. Thank you for looking after Kyrian these last two weeks, but I’ve sent his people for him. Let him go home with them.'”
She said Harris told police they were driving a red SUV, even describing specific tattoos on both.
“They never investigated Jerome and Theresa,” she said. “They never believed him.”
During the trial, three inmates testified that Harris confessed to the murder while he was in jail on an unrelated arrest. One struck a deal.
“Nobody believes the snitches,” Koehler said.
After the verdict the toddler’s relatives left court in tears with no comment.
“I hope they decide to take a look at the evidence again and see where it leads,” Koehler said.
A Chicago police spokesperson said absent any other new evidence the case will not be reopened.
No one from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office would comment on the acquittal.