Open Court: Justice for 4-year-old De-Earlvion Whitley

In-depth look at the 2017 murder case of a child killed due to gang violence; soon headed to trial

SAN ANTONIO – More than 60 shots fired at an East Side home in 2017 changed a mother’s life forever as her 4-year-old son De-Earlvion Whitley was killed.

At the time, violence on the East Side was on the rise. Authorities said the increase was due to gang rivals clashing.

KSAT 12 looks back at the case as one of the men charged with the murder of De-Earlvion heads to trial.

Watch the mini-documentary in the video player above. You can also watch on KSAT Plus and KSAT’s YouTube channel.

July 19, 2017

It was late on a Wednesday night when shots rang out in the 200 block of Hub Avenue.

Inside the home Cyntwanisha Whitley and her two young sons.

After the home was riddled with bullets, Cyntwanisha was hit twice in her leg. While one son escaped with no injuries, her youngest De-Earlvion Whitley was shot in the face and died from his injuries.

Police said the drive-by shooting appeared to be in retaliation to a previous shooting but that the intended target wasn’t in the home.

De-Earlvion Whitley was described as a natural-born football player and the life of the party. His smile was unforgettable.

Arrests Made

Several months after De-Earlvion Whitley’s murder, arrests made in a federal investigation unveiled more details about the young boy’s murder.

Ten men were indicted as part of a joint FBI and San Antonio Police operation to combat violence on the East Side.

One of those men: Whitley’s father Earl Whitley Jr.

It was also revealed that he was the intended target of the drive-by shooting.

According to a criminal complaint, surveillance footage from inside and outside a stash house connects — though not directly — others to the drive-by shooting that claimed De-Earlvion’s life on July 19.

Despite the federal investigation, it would be three more years before anybody was charged with De-Earlvion’s murder.

In 2020, Terrell Chase, Todd Hill, Quentin Phillips, John Chatmon and Michael Woodard were arrested and charged with murder. A sixth man, Dakota Peppers, was also arrested but only charged with felon in possession of a firearm.


So far only four of the men arrested face the murder charge.

John Chatmon will be the first of the remaining four to head to trial. Jury selection is on May 19 with opening statements and testimony to begin May 22.

Dakota Peppers was sentenced to six years in prison on the felon in possession charge. Todd Hill had his murder charge dismissed but was sentenced to eight years for felon in possession.

KSAT 12 will livestream the trial, which will take place in the 437th District Court with presiding Judge Joel Perez.

John Chatmon. (Bexar County Jail)

About the Authors

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with 15 years of experience in the broadcast news business. Erica has covered a wide array of stories all over Central and South Texas. She's currently the court reporter and cohost of the podcast Texas Crime Stories.

Misael started at KSAT-TV as a photojournalist in 1987.

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