Tag Archives: murder

Opening statements finally set to begin in Hobo trial

(CHICAGO) After roughly a week of jury selection, opening statements are expected to begin Wednesday in the trial of Chicago’s so-called “super gang,” the Hobos.

Federal prosecutors and defense attorneys may need more than four hours to lay out the case for jurors, who should settle in for months of testimony about brazen violence, torture and murder on Chicago’s South and West sides. The racketeering trial is taking place in the 14th-floor courtroom of U.S. District Judge John J. Tharp Jr. at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

The feds have tied six alleged Hobo gang members to nine murders, including the executions of Chicago Police informant Wilbert Moore and FBI informant Keith Daniels — the brother of one of the alleged gang members on trial. The Hobos’ violence spanned nearly a decade, from 2004 to 2013.

Prosectors believe Daniels was murdered to keep him from testifying, but the judge has ruled Daniels may speak from the grave through grand jury testimony offered before his death.

It’s not clear if prosecutors will have time to call their first witness Wednesday. But if they do, they’ve said it will be Nicholas Roti, the former chief of the organized crime bureau for the Chicago Police Department.

Prosecutors want Roti to testify as an expert about Chicago street gangs. But defense attorneys hope to attack him on cross-examination over his ties to the controversial police facility at Homan Square and allegations that he participated in retaliation against two officers who helped the feds prosecute corrupt Chicago Police Sgt. Ronald Watts.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Otlewski is expected to kick things off Wednesday with a 90-minute presentation on behalf of the government. The federal prosecutor has been known to cite Chicago’s notorious violence in his arguments, and this latest trial is taking place amid heightened concern over the city’s soaring murder numbers.

During the sentencing of Hobo gang member Gary Chester in May 2015, Otlewski cited the title of the upcoming Spike Lee film and said, “This is Chicago. It’s not ‘Chiraq.’”

The feds say Chester’s cousin, Gregory “Bowlegs” Chester, was the Hobos’ undisputed leader, and he is among the six alleged Hobos going to trial this week. So is Paris “Poleroski” Poe, allegedly a ruthless assassin for the gang.

Security is tight in Tharp’s courtroom. After walking through a metal detector in the courthouse lobby, spectators can expect to walk through another one before entering the courtroom. U.S. marshals are also watching the courtroom closely. Tharp has so far declined to shackle the Hobos during the trial, but jurors have remained anonymous.

Authorities say the Hobos are a collection of Gangster Disciples, Black Disciples and others — a “renegade group” or “conglomerate.” Its core members built a base of operations out of the Robert Taylor public housing project, records show.

The gang members allegedly referred to each other as “Hobo,” and federal prison officials even once found a handmade “Happy Birthday Ho-Bo” card in the locker of inmate Stanley “Smiley” Vaughn, who has already admitted his role in the gang.

The gang’s fleet of automobiles included Dodge Chargers, Range Rovers and Cadillac Escalades. But Poe held on to an old-school Chevy Impala with the word “Hobo” stitched into the headrest.

The “Hobo” name is also tattooed on the skin of the gang’s alleged leaders, along with the words “The Earth Is Our Turf.”

Deadliest May in 21 Years

By Nick Gale, WLS-AM 890 News

(CHICAGO)  The month of May ended as the deadliest in 21 years in Chicago, according to new numbers out from the police department.

There were 66 murders, 318 shootings and 397 victims on the streets of Chicago last month.

The last killing of the month was a 15-year-old who was shot while sitting in a car. The shooting happened in the 2900 block of East 89th Street.

Towards the beginning of May, Chicago’s top cop Eddie Johnson said this:

“Well we have things in place looking forward to the summer months. The summer time always gives us pause for concern,” Johnson said.

Weeks later, Johnson says he is still feeling optimistic about changes that are happening within the department to quell the violence.

He calls a steady fall in violence since the beginning of the year progress.


@ 2016 WLS-AM 890 News

Man charged with murder in fatal Kankakee apartment fire

(KANKAKEE) A 61-year-old man has been charged with murder and arson in connection with a fire that left two young boys dead earlier this month in downstate Kankakee.

Alex Sawyer has been charged with two counts of murder and eight counts of aggravated arson for the April 13 fire that left 2-year-old Ju’shaun Watson and 4-year-old Justice Stewart dead and injured eight others, including three firefighters, according to Kankakee Fire Chief Ron Young.

His court information was not immediately known Tuesday night.

Young said investigators believe the motive for setting the fire was revenge, but did not elaborate further in a statement Tuesday.

The boys were airlifted to the hospitals with severe burns following the fire, which started about 1:45 a.m. April 13 in the rear stairwell of a two-story building in the 800 block of West Station Street, Young said.

When firefighters arrived, they saw smoke billowing from the second floor and residents hanging out windows, Young said.

Ju’shaun was pronounced dead at 12:10 p.m. April 17 at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood; and 4-year-old Justice Stewart died at 3:54 p.m. April 15 at Comer Children’s Hospital, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

An autopsy for Justice on did not rule on cause and manner of death, with results pending further investigation. Autopsy results for Ju’shaun weren’t immediately available.

In addition to the boys, a 65-year-old woman suffered smoke inhalation; a 25-year-old man burned his hands and jumped out of a window; a 22-year-old woman burned her hands; and three others suffered injuries in the fire. Their conditions were stabilized at hospitals, Young said.

Three firefighters were also treated for injuries they suffered while battling the blaze, Young said.

It took crews about an hour and a half to put out the flames. Twenty-two people were displaced, Young said.

100 Years for Endia Martin Shooting

By Nick Gale, WLS-AM News

(CHICAGO)  The man found responsible for supplying the gun used to kill 14-year-old Endia Martin in a 2014 shooting has been sentenced to 100 years in prison.

Saying, “There are no excuses or rationalization for giving a child a gun to take to a ridiculous fight about a boy,” Judge Thaddeus Wilson sentenced Donnell Flora to 100 years Monday. Flora was found guilty of providing the gun that police say his niece used to shoot Martin after a fight on social media over a boy grew to a street brawl.

Flora, who was shot in 2009 and is paralyzed from the waist down, said in court that he was sorry for what happened and, “It never was supposed to go the way it went.”

He went on to tell the judge he wished he could trade places with Martin.

Flora’s niece is set to stand trial in May.

@ 2016 WLS-AM News

Autopsy reveals Crest Hill woman was strangled

(CHICAGO) An autopsy performed Wednesday revealed that a woman in southwest suburban Crest Hill was strangled, authorities said.

Laura Gonzalez, 22, was found unresponsive inside an apartment in the 1800 block of Marlboro Lane a few minutes before 9 p.m. Tuesday, according to Crest Hill Deputy Police Chief Ed Clark and the Will County coroner’s office.

She was pronounced dead at the scene at 11:38 p.m. An autopsy Wednesday determined the cause of death to be strangulation.

Her boyfriend, 27-year-old Cesar Garcia, was still inside the apartment when police arrived, Clark said. He was “incoherent” and was taken to Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet. Garcia and Gonzalez lived together in the apartment.

After investigating the scene and speaking with Garcia and witnesses, he was charged with first-degree murder, Clark said.

Garcia remains in the custody of the Will County sheriff’s office and is scheduled to appear in bond court Thursday.

He was previously arrested on a domestic battery charge in June, according to the sheriff’s office.

Gang leader sentenced to life in prison for 2010 fatal shooting

(CHICAGO) A Chicago gang leader of the Maniac Latin Disciples was sentenced to life in prison in connection with a 2010 fatal shooting.

Andrew Ruiz, 34, and co-defendant Edwin Carrasquillo, 24, were previously convicted for the first-degree murder of Adrian Gates, 24, according to a statement from the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.

Ruiz–already serving a 99-year sentence from an previous murder conviction–was sentenced to life in prison by Judge Domenica Stephenson on Thursday. Carrasquillo is still awaiting sentencing.

According to prosecutors, on the evening of June 15, 2010, cousins Ruiz and Carrasquillo were driving a white minivan in the 3000 block of West Grand when they pulled up behind a parked car occupied by Gates and his girlfriend.

When Gates got out of the vehicle and began crossing the street, Carrasquillo walked up from behind and shot Gates in the back of the head, prosecutors said.

Carrasquillo then got back in the van and Ruiz drove them away from the scene. Chicago Police officers on patrol in the area later tracked down Ruiz and Carrasquillo about three miles from the location of the shooting.

There were multiple eye-witnesses to the shooting, and the murder weapon was recovered near the I-290 expressway after additional witnesses told authorities they saw someone throw a gun out of the passenger window of a van that matched the description of the vehicle used in the attack, the state’s attorney’s office said.

Ruiz was convicted and sentenced to 99 years for a fatal drive-by shooting on Halloween in 2009 that killed 23-year-old Manuel Roman and seriously injured another man.

Aurora man convicted of murder gets 25 more years for attempted murder

(ST. CHARLES) An Aurora man already facing 60 years in prison for murder was sentenced to 25 more years Wednesday after he was found guilty of trying to commit a second murder.

Enrique L. Torres, 31, was convicted of attempted murder in August 2014 in connection with an April 2007 shooting in Aurora, according to a statement from the Kane County state’s attorney’s office.

About 3 a.m. on April 14, 2007, Torres and two others were in a car looking for rival gang members near Summit and Hill avenues. After seeing two people in a car nearby, Torres got out of his vehicle and opened fire, prosecutors said. One person was shot in the left thigh.

Later that day, Torres shot and killed 31-year-old Edgar Hill of Hillside in an Aurora hotel parking lot, prosecutors said. Torres was convicted of murder and sentenced to 60 years in prison in that case.

The two sentences will be served consecutively, prosecutors said.

Cousin of alleged cop killer: He told me he did it

(CHICAGO) She lowered her head, sobbed, mumbled and avoided eye contact with her cousin and the lawyers peppering her with questions.

But Meosha Menzies hesitantly testified Tuesday that Timothy Herring admitted to her that he killed Chicago Police Officer Michael Flisk and a former CHA cop they knew from the neighborhood as “Sweet Pea,” the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

“He [Herring] told me he did it,” said Menzies, 24, her back hunched on the stand. “He told me he shot them, two men in an alley.”

Menzies often told Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Joseph Magats that she didn’t recall what Herring had told her about the deadly Nov. 26, 2010, shootings in the 8100 block of South Burnham Avenue.

Timothy Herring | Cook County Sheriff's Department
Timothy Herring | Cook County Sheriff’s Department

But when pressed, Menzies gave halting, one-word answers, confirming that Herring told her how he put a bullet in his victims’ heads and then came back to shoot Stephen Peters again when he saw him move.

Weeks before the double murder, Menzies said Herring told her that he wanted to steal the stereo system from Peters’ burgundy Mustang.

“He mentioned he wanted to hit him for his sounds,” Menzies said.

Flisk, 46, and Peters, 44, were gunned down while Flisk was investigating the burglary of car parts from Peters’ mother’s garage.

Menzies, who described Herring as almost like a brother, said she asked him if he had anything to do with the murders.

“Calm down,” her cousin told her before confessing, Menzies said.

When Menzies later asked Herring why he had pulled the trigger, he allegedly “kept shaking his head, saying, ‘man, man.’ ”

Menzies’ two-hour testimony was often hard to decipher, leading Judge Mary Margaret Brosnahan to order her to “speak up” or repeat herself.

Assistant Public Defender Julie Koehler was more blunt in trying to get Menzies to talk clearly.

“You don’t want to be here, do you, and lie on your cousin? If you sit up and talk into the microphone, we can all get out of here,” the defense attorney said in a booming voice.

Menzies said she initially lied to detectives about what Herring told her “because she wanted no part in this.”

She said she eventually changed her story when she was threatened with a lie detector test.

Menzies’ sister was even more reluctant to speak with prosecutors, who had called on the siblings to testify against Herring, 24.

“I don’t remember,” Eboni Garrett, 24, said when Magats went over her grand jury testimony and a videotaped statement in which she allegedly spoke of the murders and the reward money offered for the shooter’s arrest.

Earlier Tuesday, Diamond Owens, 21, testified that Herring looked “shaken and scared” after jumping in her cousin’s car after the murders.

As they drove away, Owens said she saw two people “lying on the ground.”

Later, Owens said she saw Herring with a weapon. He then told Owens and her cousin what he had done, she said.

Herring’s ex-girlfriend also testified that he had confessed to shooting Flisk and Peters.

Man turns himself in after fatally shooting ex-girlfriend, taking her kids

(CHICAGO) A 34-year-old man turned himself in to police after he shot his ex-girlfriend to death and drove off with her two kids Tuesday night in the South Shore neighborhood.

Mechelle Lewis, 28, was sitting in a minivan parked on the block where she lived in the 7200 block of South Bennett about 9:50 p.m. when her ex-boyfriend walked up and fired into the vehicle, according to police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Lewis was pronounced dead at the scene at 10:11 p.m., authorities said.

The ex-boyfriend then took her 8-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son and drove off in a light-colored minivan, police said. He drove to the Grand Crossing District police station at 7040 S. Cottage Grove Ave., where he turned himself in to police custody.

The children were not hurt and a weapon was recovered from the vehicle, according to police. Charges were pending Wednesday morning.

Trucker gets 3 years for I-88 crash that killed tollway worker, injured trooper

Renato Velasquez | DuPage County State’s Attorney’s office

(AURORA) A semi truck driver has been sentenced to three years in prison for driving fatigued and causing an I-88 crash last year that killed a tollway worker and severely injured a state trooper.

Renato Velasquez, 48, had been working for 27 hours before the Jan. 27, 2014, crash that killed Vincent Petrella and left Trooper Douglas Balder seriously injured on the Reagan Memorial Tollway near Eola Road in Aurora, prosecutors said.

Petrella and Balder had stopped to help a disabled vehicle in the eastbound lanes of the Reagan. They were in the right-hand lane and shoulder, with their vehicles’ emergency lights activated, officials said.

Velasquez, who was also traveling eastbound, collided with the vehicles about 9:45 p.m., police said at the time.

Petrella, a husband and father of two young children, died at the scene, according to tollway officials. The 39-year-old Chicago native had worked at the tollway since 2001.

On Feb. 26, Judge Robert Kleeman found Velasquez guilty of one count of operating a commercial vehicle in a fatigued state, and two counts of failure to comply with hours of service requirements, according to the DuPage County state’s attorney’s office. He was also convicted of driving too fast for conditions and failing to yield to emergency vehicles.

Kleeman handed down the three-year sentence at a hearing Monday at the Wheaton courthouse.

“Illinois law imposes rules and regulations on the trucking industry for a reason—to keep the roads safe for all motorists,” State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said in a statement.

“Ignoring these regulations however, can result in tragic consequences, as we saw in this case. Had Mr. Velasquez gotten the proper amount of rest before getting behind the wheel of his truck, Mr. Petrella would be alive today and Trooper Balder would not be facing a life of pain and suffering,” Berlin said.

Velasquez, of Hanover Park, must serve 50 percent of his sentence before he is eligible for parole, officials said.

Suit: Fatal Bucktown nightclub shooting brought on by owner’s, City’s negligence

(CHICAGO) A nightclub owner’s management practices and the City of Chicago’s negligence led to a fatal shooting outside a Bucktown nightclub last month, a newly filed lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit was filed by the estate of Deonta Jackson Monday in Cook County Circuit Court. Sam Menetti, owner of Dolphin Chicago, and the City of Chicago were named as defendants.

About 3 a.m. on March 16, a fight broke out inside the club at 2200 N. Ashland, police said at the time.

As the fight continued, security guards pushed Jackson toward the nightclub’s north exit, at which point someone fatally shot him, the suit stated.

Jackson, 35, of the 600 block of West 115th Street, was shot multiple times and pronounced dead at the scene, according to police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Another man, 41-year-old Elijah Moore, of the 7700 block of South Bishop, was also killed in the shooting, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office. Two other men were also shot and survived.

The lawsuit stated that Menetti failed to properly train his security employees and failed to properly control crowds at the nightclub.

“But for Mr. Menetti’s negligent operation of a dangerous nightclub, Deonta Jackson would not have been shot and killed at said club,” the suit stated.

Menetti could not be reached for comment Monday evening.

The city knew of the problems at the nightclub after several reminders from 32nd Ward Ald. Scott Waguespack, the suit said.

“But for the City of Chicago’s negligence in ignoring Alderman Waguespack’s repeated requests to close Dolphin Nightclub, the club would have been closed long before the incident in question caused Deonta Jackson’s death,” the suit stated.

A spokesman for the city’s Law Department declined to comment, saying the department has not had an opportunity to review the suit yet.

Two days after the shooting, Mayor Rahm Emanuel moved to make it easier for the city to shut down bars with a history of police incidents. Until a shuttered bar provided a “plan of action” to address safety concerns that would need further approval, it would remain closed.

Calls to the Dolphin Nightclub were not answered Monday evening.

The five-count suit alleges wrongful death and seeks more than $250,000 in damages.

© Copyright 2015 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved.

Man sentenced to 23 years in beating death of Chicago Police officer grandmother

(CHICAGO) A man accused of fatally beating his grandmother, a Chicago Police officer, when she caught him skipping school as a teen was sentenced to 23 years in prison Tuesday.

Keshawn Perkins was 15 when he was arrested for the Nov. 4, 2011, murder of his grandmother, Hester Scott, at their home in the 8800 block of South Wallace, the Chicago Sun-Times reported at the time.

Perkins, now 19, pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of first-degree murder at a hearing before Judge Clayton Crane, who handed down the 23-year sentence, court records show.

Prosecutors claimed Perkins erupted in a rage when Scott caught him skipping school, asleep in front of the TV in their basement. He hit her repeatedly in the head with a lamp, then stabbed her multiple times with a kitchen knife, severing her jugular vein, authorities said.

Perkins was spotted fleeing from the home and was arrested soon after, the Sun-Times reported. He told police where he had dumped his grandmother’s body and hidden his own bloody clothes, and two bloody kitchen knives were recovered from the basement.

Scott — a mother of two — had adopted Keshawn and his siblings after her drug-addicted daughter could no longer care for them and they were taken into foster care, relatives told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Friends and relatives described Scott as a proud police officer who, less than a day before her death, swore she would “fight till my dying breath” to help Perkins turn his life around.

Relatives said her world collapsed when the teen accused her of abuse in 2007. Even though the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services dismissed the allegations, an Independent Police Review Authority investigation was still open at the time of her death four years later, and she had remained on desk duty, stripped of her police powers.

Police Supt. Garry McCarthy ordered Scott’s badge to be posthumously restored to her for her burial, at the urging of police union officials.

© Copyright 2015 Sun-Times Media, LLC

Police: Man found shot to death in Bridgeport

(CHICAGO) A man was found shot to death early Thursday in the Bridgeport neighborhood on the South Side, police said.

Officers found the man, 20, unresponsive on the ground with a gunshot wound to the chest about 3 a.m. in the 1200 block of West 32nd Street, police News Affairs Officer Ronald Gaines said.

He was dead at the scene, Gaines said.

The Cook County medical examiner’s office could not confirm the death early Thursday.

© Copyright 2015 Sun-Times Media, LLC

Darien man gets 65 years for kidnapping ex, killing her boyfriend

            photo courtesy of Sun Times Media

(WHEATON) A former west suburban man will spend 65 years in prison for kidnapping his ex-girlfriend after fatally stabbing her new boyfriend as the couple went for a walk near her Darien home.

At a jury trial last November, Joseph Spitalli was found guilty of first-degree murder for the death of Teymur Huseynli of Skokie; and of kidnapping his ex-girlfriend, according to the DuPage County state’s attorney’s office.

Spitalli, 36, formerly of Darien, must serve 100 percent of his 50-year sentence for the murder charge, the state’s attorney’s office said Tuesday. He was also sentenced to 18 years for the kidnapping, of which he must serve 85 percent, for a total of just over 65 years.

Judge Daniel Guerin imposed the sentence at a hearing Tuesday, according to the state’s attorney’s office.

The slaying happened just after midnight on Nov. 17, 2012, after Spitalli confronted his ex-girlfriend and Huseynli, her current boyfriend, while the couple was walking a dog near her Darien apartment, prosecutors said.

The two men argued, and it turned violent, prosecutors said. Spitalli grabbed Huseynli from behind and slit his throat, then forced his ex-girlfriend, then 28, into his car at knifepoint.

He threatened to kill her and her daughter if she didn’t lie to police to say that she was the victim of a battery — a story Spitalli concocted to avoid responsibility for the murder, prosecutors claimed.

Spitalli tried unsuccessfully to blame the murder on the ex-girlfriend, authorities said. He later claimed he accidentally slashed the man’s throat, even though Huseynli had been nearly decapitated.

“From the moment he murdered Teymur Huseynli, Mr. Spitalli tried everything he could think of to avoid responsibility,” said DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin, calling the evidence in the case “overwhelming.”

“I would like to express my sincere condolences to Teymur’s family and friends on their heartbreaking loss. Perhaps with today’s sentencing, they will be able to find some comfort knowing that the man responsible for Teymur’s murder will spend the next 65 years of his life behind bars,” Berlin said.

© Copyright 2015 Sun-Times Media, LLC