The North Chicago man charged with murdering his 6-year-old brother Damari Perry has pleaded not guilty and filed a request to represent himself as his own attorney in the case.
Jeremiah Perry, 20, and Jannie Perry, 38, both of North Chicago, were indicted last Wednesday by a Lake County jury on more than a dozen charges each.
They were jointly indicted on eight counts of murder, aggravated battery of a child, dismembering a human body, conspiracy, aggravated domestic battery, concealment of a homicidal death, endangering the life or health of a child, abuse of a corpse and obstructing justice.
Jannie Perry was also indicted on one count of failure to report the death or disappearance of a child under 13 years of age.
Jeremiah Perry appeared in court Monday for an arraignment hearing where he pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Perry filed motions last week seeking to be his own attorney in the case, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Attorney Renea Amen, who is Perry’s court-appointed counsel, said she would visit Jeremiah Perry in the Lake County Jail to see whether he still intended to act as his own attorney.
Prosecutors also said during the Monday arraignment hearing that they intended to seek a natural life sentence if Perry was convicted, the Tribune reported.
Court records show Jeremiah Perry is scheduled to appear in court again on Tuesday.
Prosecutors have said that Jannie and Jeremiah Perry formulated and enacted a plan to severely punish Damari through prolonged exposure in a cold shower.
Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Kyle Doyle said the family of Damari reported that the boy “did something that the mother felt needed to be punished for” on December 29.
The next day, Damari was put into a tub or shower with the cold water on for an “extended period of time,” Doyle said in court.
Damari vomited and became unresponsive. It was determined the boy was deceased but no one in the family called 911, Doyle said.
The incident occurred at the family’s apartment in the 1700 block of Sheridan Road in North Chicago.
Doyle said that Jannie Perry and Jeremiah Perry discussed how to dispose of the body and ended up taking it to Indiana.
On January 5, almost a week after Damari’s death, the family reported the boy missing.
Investigators determined the family’s story about Damari going missing in Skokie was “completely false.”
Damari’s body was located near an abandoned house in the 700 block of Van Buren Street in Gary, Indiana, police said.
The boy was found naked wrapped in a plastic trash bag, the Lake County, Indiana Coroner’s Office said.
He had bruises, an extremely cold core temperature and partially frozen internal organs, an autopsy found. The coroner’s office said Damari also had postmortem burns.