The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

December 11, 2012

Chicago man convicted in 2007 killings


URBANA — It took only a short time for a federal jury to convict a man in the 2007 shooting deaths in Danville of a man and two women.

The trial for Freddell Bryant, 34, of Chicago, started last week in connection with the March 25, 2007, shooting deaths of 21-year-old TaBreyon McCullough, 19-year-old Madisen Leverenz and 30-year-old Rodney Pepper in Danville.

Bryant is formally charged with three counts of using a firearm during a drug trafficking crime causing death.

Closing arguments took place Monday before the federal jury was excused to begin deliberating. The jury was behind closed doors for only three hours before returning with the guilty verdict.

The announcement was made just before 4 p.m. Monday.

Mac Leverenz, the father of Madisen Leverenz, has watched during the last five years as the investigation and the trial unfolded. Speaking after the verdict announcement, he said his daughter had only known these people for two months and was just a child when Bryant took her life.

“She didn’t know just how bad these people were,” he said. “In a very short period of time she found out when they took her life.

“After almost six years this March, it was a great relief to have ‘Freddie Mo’ — Freddell Bryant — found guilty in all three three charges,” Leverenz said.

At his sentencing, Bryant could face a maximum punishment of life in prison for the three federal counts. A sentencing hearing is slated for March 15, 2013.

Bryant has been in federal custody since his arrest in May 2007. He pleaded guilty two years later to crack cocaine charges and was sentenced in April 2010 to 25 years in federal prison.

“He’ll never get out,” Leverenz said.

Among the primary items of evidence presented by federal prosecutors was a 2010 taped statement to law enforcement in which Bryant admitted to involvement the triple homicide. He contended in the taped statement that he did not enter the home with the intent of killing anyone inside.

The federal grand jury indictment leveled against Bryant in summer 2011 alleged the murders were as a result of accusations about missing drugs belonging to Bryant.

According to evidence presented in the trial, Bryant used McCullough on March 24, 2007, to hold kilogram amounts of cocaine at her residence in Danville. Bryant learned at some point later that day that multiple kilograms of the cocaine had been taken from McCullough’s residence.

The next day, according to the evidence, Bryant took McCullough to an apartment at 1707 E. Main St. to confront Pepper and Leverenz, whom he believed were involved in taking the drugs from McCullough’s home. The charges contend Bryant brought a gun to the home and used it to shoot the three victims.

Police called to the scene on March 25, 2007, found Pepper shot and bleeding in the middle of East Main Street. A large front window was broken on the house where Pepper had thrown himself through. Inside the home, the bodies of McCullough and Leverenz were found.

With Monday’s conviction, just one man — 28-year-old Jerome Harris — still faces murder charges in connection with the triple homicide. He faces 15 counts of first-degree murder in the case, which was filed in Vermilion County Circuit Court.