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Colorado Springs family waits for answers in 20-year-old's February killing

By: lisa walton
May 19, 2014 Updated: February 19, 2018 at 4:49 pm
photo - De'Vante Hill
De'Vante Hill 

It's been three months since 20-year-old De'Vante Hill was gunned down a block east of the Valley Hi Golf Course in Colorado Springs.

Police are still looking for his killer, and his family is still waiting for answers.

"I don't want nobody to forget about him," said his mother, Trina Emerson, who spent Mother's Day without her oldest son, and calls police for updates weekly.

"The world moved on. The days go on. But I still relive that knock on the door," she said.

Of the city's 10 confirmed homicides this year, Hill's death is one of four where a suspect has yet to be identified by Colorado Springs police. Police haven't said whether a shooting death early Saturday in southeastern Colorado Springs is considered a homicide.

Three days after Hill died, 31-year-old Kenneth Pritchett was gunned down in broad daylight on Galley Road, just north of The Citadel mall. Three weeks later, less than a mile south from where Hill was shot, 51-year-old Leroy Chavez was killed in a home at the 700 block of Winnepeg Drive. That shooting also left two men in critical condition, police said.

Suspects have not been identified in either case.

Officers responding to reports of gunfire about 2 a.m. Feb. 15 found Hill bleeding near a curb on the 2800 block of Airport Road, police said. He died at the hospital.

"He died there lonely, by himself," Emerson said. "The thought of me bringing him up here to better himself - and this is what happened - it just don't sit well with me."

Hill had been in Colorado Springs about nine months before he was killed. Emerson moved to Colorado Springs because she believe the city would provide better opportunities for Hill and her two younger sons, ages 9 and 13. She and the younger boys moved to Colorado Springs from Charleston, S.C., three years ago. Hill had joined them last year.

He was one class away from getting his diploma from Life Skills High School, a year-round school where he'd taken classes during the summer, she said.

A little bit of goofing off during his junior year, paired with his move to Colorado, set him back, but he was set to graduate in June. He was determined to get his diploma, she said.

His diploma and his cap and gown were presented to her during a February memorial service held for him at the school.

His tassel hangs in Emerson's car.

With his diploma in hand, Emerson said she's upholding a deal she made with him before he was killed: If he got his diploma, she would get hers, too, and then enroll in nursing school.

"I promised him," said Emerson, who received her diploma online in April and will start pre-nursing classes at Pikes Peak Community College at the end of May.

She attended orientation Wednesday.

"It's what he wanted," she said.

Hill would often come home with snacks for his 9-year-old brother, Khyli. He would lie next to him until he fell asleep at night, Emerson said. Now the 9-year-old sleeps in Hill's bed alone.

His 13-year-old brother Artrell struggles with his new role as the oldest brother and is not dealing well with his death, she said. Both boys have nightmares.

"We're getting better. But as a mom, I'll never be the same. As a mom, I push through the days. I still won't allow anyone to touch his things," Emerson said.

She sprays Hill's cologne around the house to catch a whiff of what she remembers his hugs smelling like. She remembers that on his birthday, just three weeks before he was killed, he asked her to make him hot wings and a triple chocolate cake.

"He thinks I made it from scratch. But I used the box," Emerson said with a laugh.

She described Hill as a jokester and a breakfast person who loved Oreos, Apple Jacks and ESPN. He wanted to be an electrician, or a welder like his father, who lives in South Carolina.

He had a 1 a.m. curfew, which she allowed him to break on Valentine's Day - because it was the weekend and he was going to spend the night at his girlfriend's house.

She was expecting him to be home about 8 or 9 a.m. the next day. She was supposed to meet his girlfriend for the first time that weekend. She never met her.

Hill was shot to death in an area of the city that consistently sees gun violence.

In November, a man was shot and wounded on the same block where Hill was shot.

A block away from that, a home was sprayed with gunfire in a drive by shooting. Last April, one person was killed and two were injured by gunfire at a tavern two blocks from where Hill was found bleeding.

Emerson said Hill and his brothers had been exposed to drug dealing when they lived in affordable housing in South Carolina, but De'Vante didn't have a criminal record.

"I have so many unanswered questions," Emerson said. "I miss my boy."

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