Facing life in prison, the Hobos ask for a new trial

Paris Poe | Illinois Department of Corrections

(CHICAGO) Keith Daniels’ girlfriend told jurors she saw only one shooter the night Daniels was executed in front of his family for snitching on Chicago’s so-called “super gang,” the Hobos.

The ambush began when Daniels and his family returned home from dinner in Dolton in April 2013. A masked gunman stepped out from behind a shrub and fired at a car carrying Daniels, Shanice Peatry and their two small children. Last January, a federal jury decided that masked man was Paris “Poleroski” Poe, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

But Poe’s lawyers now say bullets flew in opposite directions that night, leaving holes in the windshield and in the back of Daniels’ car. Authorities found .40 and .45 caliber shell casings at the scene.

“There were clearly two shooters involved in Daniels’ murder,” Patrick Blegen, one of Poe’s attorneys, wrote.

The lawyer made the claim amid a bid by Poe and five other Hobo leaders to undo their sweeping racketeering conspiracy conviction early this year at the end of a roughly four-month trial. The six men asked a judge late last week to order a new trial — or even acquit them — despite the jury’s verdict. It’s a routine request ahead of the Hobos’ sentencing, which is set for June 23.

The defense lawyers continued to question in their filings whether the Hobos street gang even existed, at least in the way federal prosecutors have argued. They tried to poke holes in the investigation that led to the gang leaders’ indictment, and they complained that prosecutors relied on testimony from “pathological and prodigious” liars.

“The evidence showed a variety of unconnected participants involved in a series of unrelated criminal activity over a significant period of time operating with no ongoing organization, continuing unit, structure, or common purpose,” Molly Armour, a lawyer for Arnold “Armstrong” Council, 40, wrote.

The feds have called the Hobos an “all-star team of the worst of the worst” of Chicago’s street gangs, which rose out of the now-demolished Robert Taylor Homes. It terrorized the South and West sides for roughly a decade. The six men, including Hobos leader Gregory “Bowlegs” Chester, 40, were found guilty of a conspiracy that included five murders.

Four of the six men face a mandatory life sentence. Last month, U.S. District Judge John J. Tharp Jr. gave two simultaneous life sentences to a seventh Hobo, Byron “B-Rupt” Brown, who had been tied to five additional deaths.

Prosecutors have previously acknowledged that an unnamed accomplice helped Poe, 37, murder Daniels. They wrote in one court filing that “Keith Daniels was murdered by two individuals who used handguns then fled in a Chevy Trailblazer.” Peatry, the key witness to the killing, testified during the trial that she saw only one shooter, though she acknowledged a second person was in a getaway car.

During her testimony, Peatry identified Poe as Daniels’ killer. But Blegen has questioned her ability to recognize the masked man.

Blegen also pointed to two men who tried to get Daniels to run their drug line on the west side who had greater reason to fear Daniels’ testimony and may have wanted him gone. The day Daniels was killed, he was warned by text about two people “out west” who wanted to kill him.

The feds say Poe cut off an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet to hunt down and execute Daniels, a man who had been cooperating for years with the FBI. That “made little sense” to Blegen, according to his court filing. Poe knew that his ankle monitor could track only whether he was “in range” of his home, Blegen wrote.

The bracelet did not have GPS, Blegen wrote, and Poe had permission to leave home for several hours a day for work.

“Thus, had Poe wanted cover for a murder, he would have kept his monitor on,” Blegen wrote. “Cutting it off simply attracted law enforcement’s attention.”

— Chicago Sun-Times