Four people, including 14-year-old boy, charged in murder of French street artist

Four people, including a 14-year-old boy, have been charged for the murder of French street artist Bilal Berreni, whose body was discovered a year ago near an abandoned Detroit public housing project.

The 14-year-old was charged Thursday with first-degree murder and armed robbery in the fatal shooting.

The boy was 13 at the time of the killing of 23-year-old Berreni. Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a statement that the boy and three other then-teenagers carried out the attack.

Dionte Travis, 17; Jasin Curtis, 18; and Drequone Rich, 20, were arraigned Wednesday on first-degree murder and armed robbery charges. They return to court Sept. 11 for a probable cause hearing.

‘It sickens me that a young, talented artist who had traveled the world to pursue his passion was murdered here, thus reinforcing the stereotypes for many about our city of Detroit,’ Worthy said in a statement.

On Thursday, the 14-year-old had his first court appearance in the case. The judge ordered him detained until his next appearance Sept. 11.

The youngest defendant is designated as an adult in the juvenile court system, Worthy said. If he’s convicted, a judge could sentence him as a juvenile, an adult or a juvenile for a period, then an adult.

Prosecutors aren’t naming him because of his age, and said they didn’t know if the 14-year-old has a lawyer. Lawyers for Curtis and Travis declined comment from the Associated Press on Thursday, while Rich didn’t have a lawyer on record Thursday.

‘I don’t think Billy understood the nature of, like, going to the Brewster Projects at four, five or six in the morning, and the dangers therein,’ friend Gustav Brovold told WXYZ.

WXYZ reported that Travis, Curtis and Rich ‘are reportedly part of a gang that police believe is linked to a number of robberies.’

Berreni, a Paris native, was found with a gunshot wound to the face on July 29, 2013, outside the Frederick Douglass Homes. No identification was on his body, and it was seven months before Michigan State Police identified him, using fingerprints.

Berreni began painting on walls in his neighborhood at age 15, according to French media reports. He later graduated from an applied arts school, then left to pursue his work around the world. He signed his work under the name the Zoo Project, gaining attention in 2011 through work in Tunisia in which he made life-size pictures of people killed in unrest in that North African nation.

‘From what I understand, he was interested in what can be born out of chaos,’ father Mourad Berreni told The Detroit Free Press in a March interview. ‘For him, it represented the failure of capitalism and believed that from that chaos something can be born.’

‘He was an enlightened being, pure, who did not make any concession with society,’ he told the newspaper.’He felt that he had to say what he believed.’

More at The DailyMail Online.

scroll to top