4 Detroit Men Arrested In Connection With French Street Artist's Murder

| by Jared Keever

Police in Detroit have arrested four suspects in the robbery and murder of a French street artist whose body was found last year in an abandoned housing project. 

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy filed charges against Jasin Curtis, 18, Dionte Travis, 17, and Drequone Rich, 20, on Wednesday. Her office is is also expected to charge a 14-year-old suspect in the killing later this week.   

The three men charged Wednesday will stand trial for felony murder, armed robbery, being a felon in possession of a firearm and using a firearm in a felony, the Detroit Free Press reports.

It took months for police to identify Bilal Berreni’s body after it was discovered in July 2013. Authorities were eventually able to link fingerprints taken from the body to an arrest record of Berreni’s in Ohio.  

Berreni’s father said his son was attracted to the city of Detroit because of its artistic potential.

“For him, it represented the failure of capitalism and (he) believed that from that chaos something can be born,” Mourad Berreni said, according to The Associated Press

“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 quoted by MSN News

Berreni grew up in Paris where he began painting at age 15. After graduating from a French art school he travelled the world, at one time gaining attention for his socially conscious art in Tunisia.

He was in Detroit for a time in 2012 and returned again in 2013. His father said he would occasionally live as a squatter in vacant buildings.

Andrew Roberts, a friend of Berreni’s, who lived with him in Detroit at the time of the murder said he still misses his friend. 

“Retribution just kind of rings hollow,” Roberts said of the announcement that the suspected killers have been caught. “At the end of everything, I still lost my friend.”

Sources: Detroit Free Press, Sacramento Bee (AP Story), MSN News

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