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April 2012 Archives

In a scene like something out of Heat, Chicago police shot three burglary suspects during a dramatic getaway attempt in the Little Village neighborhood on the West Side, the Chicago Tribune reports. One suspect was killed in the incident and two were injured.

At around 2:30 a.m., police responded to a report of a burglary of an electronics store on Western Avenue. After police spotted three men in the store, they announced their presence, knocked on the doors, and tried to get the suspects to surrender. The suspects, however, weren’t willing to give up that easy.

Anger over the Trayvon Martin shooting has been palpable over the past couple months. On April 17, that anger reportedly led to violent action in Oak Park.

Police arrested 18-year-old Alton L. Hayes after he and a 15-year-old boy allegedly assaulted a 19-year-old white male out of anger over the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Hayes has been charged with a hate crime, aggravated battery, and attempted robbery, the Chicago Tribune reports.

For the second day in a row, Jennifer Hudson stayed away from the courtroom on Wednesday while jurors were shown graphic images of the crime scene and autopsies of the victims, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Hudson’s former brother-in-law is currently on trial for the 2008 murders of the singer’s mother, brother, and nephew. On Wednesday, the trial focused on the murder of Julian King, Hudson’s 7-year-old nephew.

On Monday, William Dukes was sentenced to life in prison for the murders of his ex-girlfriend’s 8-year-old daughter and mother in Cicero in 1993, the Chicago Tribune reports.

In December of last year, Dukes was found guilty of murdering 46-year-old Marilyn Williams and Bridget Canaday, the daughter of Dukes’ ex-girlfriend, Lucy Rhynes. Canaday was raped and strangled. Williams was beaten and suffocated.

On Monday, 24-year-old Sami Samir Hassoun, a Chicago man of Lebanese descent, pleaded guilty in federal court to charges stemming from a 2010 attempted bombing near Wrigley Field, the Chicago Tribune reports.

In September of 2010, undercover FBI officers supplied the Hassoun with a backpack that he believed contained a powerful bomb. Hassoun then reportedly placed the backpack in a trash can near Wrigley Field.

Hassoun first came to the FBI’s attention after he reportedly told an unnamed source that he hoped to create “political instability” in Chicago through violent action. The FBI then set up a sting operation.

With Cinco de Mayo around the corner, you may want to think twice before dipping into that queso. On Thursday, four people were arrested for allegedly scraping mold and fungus off of contaminated Mexican cheese and then reselling it to retailers, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

In 2007, the Food and Drug Administration recalled Queso Chincho de Guerrero, a hard cheese produced by Quesos Sabrosos Mexicanos. The FDA determined that the cheese contained salmonella, E. coli, and other bacteria.

On Tuesday, FBI agents arrested Rita Crundwell, the city comptroller for Dixon, on accusations that she misappropriated over $30 million in city funds in only the last six years. She is currently charged with just one count of wire fraud, the Chicago Tribune reports.

The accusations are particularly surprising considering the small northwest Illinois town has an annual budget of only $8 million to $9 million. Last year, the city implemented budget cuts in response to its recent financial crunch.

On Monday, 23-year-old Devell M. Johnson was charged with first-degree murder for the death of a 2-year-old girl, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Johnson is accused of beating to death Armaney Cotton, the daughter of Johnson’s long-time girlfriend. Police found Cotton’s body at Johnson’s home on Saturday.

On Saturday morning, Ron Psenka heard a woman being assaulted outside his Lincoln Square home. After telling his wife to call 911, he ran outside barefoot and chased the woman’s assailant down the street with a shovel, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Psenka was eventually able to flag down officers to make the arrest. Admon Shasho, the alleged attacker, is currently being held on aggravated criminal sexual assault and attempted robbery charges.

Over the past 3 months, homicides have shot up by 60 percent, the Chicago Tribune reports. Nonfatal shootings also rose dramatically in the first quarter of the year, according to police statistics.

The Chicago Police Department has blamed the rise on increased violence among street gangs. Some criminologists, however, attribute the rise to the unseasonably warm weather the city has experienced this past winter.

The Cook County medical examiner’s office has ruled the death of Eugene Gruber, an inmate at Lake County Jail, a homicide. Gruber was paralyzed as a result of spinal injuries he sustained during an altercation with the jail’s staff. On March 3, he died of pneumonia resulting from paraplegia, the Chicago Tribune reports.

As a result of the medical examiner’s findings, the Lake County state’s attorney’s office has requested the appointment of a special prosecutor to review the investigation and determine whether charges should be brought against the jail’s staff members.

Donald Rattanavong, an Elgin homeowner and father of three, is now on trial for fatally shooting 18-year-old Guillermo Pineda in July 2011, the Chicago Tribune reports. Rattanavong, who is charged with involuntary manslaughter and reckless discharge of a firearm, claims that the shots were meant to warn Pineda and his friends, whom Rattanavong believed were trying to break into his car.

Some may see this as somewhat similar to the highly publicized shooting of Trayvon Martin, which took place in Sanford, Florida. However, the two self-defense laws that may come into play in the cases are quite different. While Florida has a "stand your ground" law, Illinois' self-defense law is less broad.

Fourteen jurors were selected on Monday, out of the 24 questioned, to hear the case of William Balfour, a man accused of murdering three members of actress and singer Jennifer Hudson’s family in 2008. The prospective jurors were questioned for nearly four hours on Monday morning, the Chicago Tribune reports.

William Balfour, the estranged husband of Hudson’s sister Julia, is accused of fatally shooting Hudson’s mother and brother in their Englewood home, before kidnapping and killing Hudson’s 7-year-old nephew. Balfour was arrested and charged with the murders in December 2008.

On Thursday, Datqunn Sawyer, a notoriously brutal West Side pimp, was sentenced to 50 years in prison. The sentence is believed to be the toughest penalty Chicago’s federal court has ever handed down to a convicted sex trafficker, reports the Chicago Tribune.

According to prosecutors, Sawyer used physical violence and intimidation in order to coerce underage girls and vulnerable woman into working for him as prostitutes. A federal jury convicted him of sex trafficking charges in November.

Several major police organizations in Illinois are backing a bill that would alter the state’s current eavesdropping law. The bill would allow police officers to record audio of suspected drug dealers without a judge’s approval, the Chicago Tribune reports.

The bill passed the House on Friday. However, it has many vocal critics who believe the bill represents a slippery slope, opening the door to police recording of other types of activities.

The new bill comes hot on the heels of a recent bill that would have allowed citizens to record audio of police officers in public. That bill was voted down by the House on March 21.

Joseph Nerone, was arrested Friday and charged with the murder of his 84-year-old mother, Elaine. His mother was found dead from multiple stab wounds to the head and back at the Northwest Side apartment she shared with Nerone, the Chicago Tribune reports.

While being questioned, Nerone claimed that Satan killed his mother and that he was possessed by the devil when the stabbing occurred. Under Illinois law, will Nerone be able to assert an insanity defense to the murder charges?