17-year-old charged as an adult in shooting of 2-year-old nephew

DECATUR, Ill. — A 17-year-old has been charged as an adult with first-degree murder in the shooting death of a 2-year-old.

In addition to the murder charge, Zachary Pherigo is charged with aggravated battery and unlawful use of a weapon in the death of his nephew, Justin Lee Murphy Jr. A Macon County Circuit Court judge on Monday ordered Pherigo held in lieu of $500,000 bond.

According to Decatur police, the toddler was shot Saturday when he and Pherigo were playing “cops and robbers.” They allege Pherigo was holding a .45-caliber semi-automatic handgun to the boy’s side as part of the game when he pulled the trigger. Authorities say Pherigo contended he didn’t know the weapon was loaded.

Assistant Public Defender Steve Perbix was appointed to represent Pherigo. Perbix did not comment on the case. State’s Attorney Jay Scott refused to comment on what facts led him to file the first-degree murder charge against Pherigo.