On 20 November 1984, Benjamin "Benji" Wilson was the #1 high school basketball player in the nation.
Ben attended Simeon Vocational H. S. in Chicago. His team was one day away from the first game
of the season, prepared to defend their State Basketball Championship. It was anticipated they would
become the first back-to-back champions from Chicago. When that game was played the following day,
Ben Wilson was dead, gunned down less than a block from the school. Read below and learn
how mean the streets can be and how the slightest perceived disrespect can end and change lives
in an instant.
Ben Wilson was murdered in 1984, nothing has changed during that time.
In the prosecution`s opening argument, Assistant State`s Atty. Kenneth Malatesta told the jury about Wilson`s good character and his rapid rise to stardom through basketball.
``Life was good for Benjamin Wilson in November of 1984,`` Malatesta said. He said Wilson was ``a self-starter. A young man who had goals . . . who had become a star at a young age.
``Nov. 20 was a cool and sunny day in our city,`` he said. ``It started out routinely for Ben Wilson. . . . But it was to be the last walk of his life.``
Wilson and Rush left Simeon Vocational High School, where they were students, and walked up Vincennes Avenue toward a group of young men, Rush testified. As they went around the group, Wilson bumped into one of the youths, she said. That youth was William Moore, 17, of 8522 S. Bishop St., who is on trial with Omar Dixon, 16, of 8000 S. Bishop.
Wilson said, ``Excuse me,`` Rush said. She said Moore responded, ``What`d you say, man?`` Wilson repeated it, and Dixon approached Wilson and ``asked him did he have any money . . . and he started going into Benji`s pockets,`` Rush testified. Wilson pushed him away, she said. Dixon said, ``Let`s shoot this punk,`` and Moore pulled out a gun and fired twice, Rush said.
Defense lawyers argued that things happened differently. Public defender Rita Fry, one of Dixon`s lawyers, told the jury that Dixon played no part in the shooting and never told Moore ``to shoot Ben Wilson. He never went in his pockets.``One of Moore`s attorneys, Isaiah Gant, told the jury that Moore admits he shot Wilson.
But he said Moore fired the shots in self-defense after he was confronted and threatened by ``what he believed to be the tallest man in the world . . . 6-foot-7, 239-pound Ben Wilson.