Man Gets No Jail For Killing 2-Year-Old, Because Living With Remorse Is Enough

Zachary Pherigo fatally shot his 2-year-old nephew while playing cops and robbers with a gun he found near a dumpster.

Decatur, IL – An Illinois man who fatally shot his two-year-old nephew while playing “cops and robbers” was sentenced to two years of probation on Wednesday.

Macon County Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Geisler said that Zachary Pherigo, 18, had expressed remorse for killing the toddler and that his greatest punishment would be having to live with the consequences of what he had done, the Herald & Review reported.

The incident occurred at approximately 8:40 a.m. on Oct. 16, 2017, while Pherigo was babysitting his nephew, two-year-old Justin Lee Murphy, Jr., according to the Herald & Review.

Pherigo, who was 17 at the time, claimed that he found a .45 caliber semiautomatic handgun near a dumpster the day prior, and that he pointed the weapon at his nephew as they were playing “cops and robbers,” police said.

He aimed the weapon at Justin and told him not to move, then pulled the trigger and shot the toddler in the back.

Pherigo said he did not realize the gun was loaded.

According to investigators, Pherigo said that he carried the baby into the house, then tried to stop his bleeding using a blanket.

He ultimately left the dying child and went outside, where he retrieved the weapon and shell casing.

Pherigo stashed the gun in a cabinet and placed the casing into his pocket.

Prosecutors initially charged Pherigo as an adult with first-degree murder, the Associated Press reported.

That charge was dropped in March, after Pherigo pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, aggravated discharge of a firearm, and obstruction of justice for lying to police earlier in the investigation, the Herald & Review reported.

As part of the plea deal, prosecutors also agreed not to seek a sentence enhancement for use of a firearm.

After he entered his guilty pleas, Pherigo waved to his family members as he was led out of the courtroom.

On Wednesday, Pherigo’s mother, Christina Pherigo, told the court that her son suffered from an intellectual disability and that he was very close to Justin.

It was not immediately clear if Pherigo has an actual diagnosed disability, or if his mother was just expressing her opinion about his intelligence.

Assistant Macon County State’s Attorney Kate Kurtz urged the court to impose some period of prison time for the killing, but noted that Justin’s parents had approved of the plea agreement.

Geisler said he was willing to “take a chance” on Pherigo by allowing him to serve his sentence on probation, the Herald & Review reported.

He was sentenced to just 48 months of probation for aggravated discharge of a firearm.

Geisler also sentenced Pherigo to 180 days in jail, but gave him credit for the 235 days he had been locked up prior to sentencing, so he won’t serve any additional time in custody for the murder.

Due to “one act, one crime” legal requirements, he was not separately sentenced for involuntary manslaughter, because the conduct that was the basis of both convictions was identical.

Geisler sentenced Pherigo to 30 months of probation for the obstruction offense and ordered that the sentence run concurrently with the previously imposed probation term.

He also ordered Pherigo to complete a mental health evaluation.

Comments (18)
No. 1-18
JBo
JBo

Wow. Just wow.

gfc1963
gfc1963

Unbelievable! Just go out and shoot a two year old and get a slap on the wrist!

Henry_Bowman
Henry_Bowman

It's The Peoples' Democratic Republic Of Illinois...Expect nothing more...

Richard Kurtz
Richard Kurtz

I am sure it was unintentional, but the fact he tried to cover it up should have made for a stiffer sentence.

HCD_is_my_bitch
HCD_is_my_bitch

Lets assume he's telling the truth, he still should get 20 years for being a dumb ass for pulling the trigger on an unknown gun at someone, and another 20 for trying to hide the fact that he did instead of making saving the boy's life his top priority. 180 days in jail? People serve more time for first time non-violent drug offenses. Would love to see the mental evaluation results.

Wallmaker6
Wallmaker6

Involuntary manslaughter?? So he pointed the gun and pulled the trigger by telekinesis?? No. He voluntarily pointed it, and voluntarily pulled the trigger. Now a child is dead. Remorse? A teenager having remorse? In 2018....laughable.

RunCop
RunCop

This POS looks like lowest common denominator's mutant son!

NTPD935Ret
NTPD935Ret

Another victory for the liberal courts. The saddest part of this whole story is the judge BELIEVES that the ends of justice were met.

BlueLady
BlueLady

If the weapon was found the day before the shooting, why wasn’t it turned into the Police???

cspcapt
cspcapt

let him find remorse in jail

OakwoodLT5
OakwoodLT5

and people wonder why Illinois/Chicago is the way it is?..

LordSeamus
LordSeamus

Chicago.....where the price of life isn't worth a plugged nickel .

TheZooQueen
TheZooQueen

You have to be kidding me. Is that judge insane? Can someone check and see if they are fit for duty? This is nuts!

Karles_1
Karles_1

And why wasn't a mental health evaluation ordered before the hearing began

Yvonne1
Yvonne1

Parents of nephew agreed with sentence.

Yvonne1
Yvonne1

Parents of nephew agreed with sentence.

Memaw187
Memaw187

Boy,he sure got a candy sentence. What a joke! I can't believe even the babies parents threw in the towel on this. And the judge obviously shares limited intelligence Along with the killer.

TrueAmerican
TrueAmerican

This man needs to be held accountable for the death of this child. I don't know how the parents agreed to prohbation! SMH