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Murder & Manslaughter in Chicago

Murder and manslaughter are crimes committed when one person takes the life of another, but the two are otherwise very different. Murder that is both willful and planned in advance is the most serious form of homicide and is referred to as first-degree murder. Second-degree murder is intentional but not premeditated, or is a homicide caused by dangerous acts in the absence of concern for others. While voluntary manslaughter is an intentional but unplanned killing commonly done “in the heat of passion,” involuntary manslaughter is an unintentional homicide resulting from an unlawful act such as a DUI.

Homicide is considered the most serious spectrum of crimes, with first-degree murder being the most severe, best defended by an Illinois criminal attorney. Manslaughter convictions come with either probation or some prison time, while first-degree murder carries a sentence of 20 years to life in prison. Chicago criminal defense attorneys can often assess your legal issue and help with developing a good defense strategy. You can find an attorney by viewing FindLaw's local directory of Chicago criminal defense attorneys.

Recently in Murder & Manslaughter Category

University of Chicago Crime Lab Gets $1M

The University of Chicago Crime Lab received a $1 million grant that will be used to grow its policy work and study crime problems.

With more resources to tackle the city's crime problems, the Crime Lab will be able to keep up with the city legislators' accelerated timetables, said the Chicago Tribune.

So what types of research may the grant fund?

What Is Involuntary Manslaughter in Illinois?

Involuntary manslaughter in Illinois is the least severe of the homicide charges in the state.

Unlike murder charges, involuntary manslaughter involves unintentional killings. So while a defendant usually has an intent to kill the victim in a first or second degree murder case, when it comes to involuntary manslaughter, the killing is usually an accident or the result of a reckless act.

For example, someone who fires off a gun to celebrate July Fourth may be charged with involuntary manslaughter if the shooting accidentally kills a neighbor.

What Is Second Degree Murder in Illinois?

Second degree murder in Illinois is similar to first degree murder except that there are certain mitigating circumstances which justify the lesser charge.

Generally, to prove second degree murder, the prosecutor has to prove the same elements as first degree murder. That the defendant killed an individual without lawful justification and intended to kill the victim or do great bodily harm. Or that the defendant killed an individual without lawful justification knowing that his acts create a strong probability of causing death or great bodily harm.

What Is First Degree Murder in Illinois?

Not all forms of homicide are the same. First degree murder is the most serious homicide charge in Illinois and carries a possible life sentence. Lesser forms of homicide in the state include second degree murder as well as manslaughter charges.

Because of the seriousness of first degree murder, prosecutors can only charge someone of the crime in limited circumstances.

Lottery Winner's Death Changed to Homicide After Relative's Tip

Less than a month after striking it rich in the lottery, and days before his check would arrive in the mail, Urooj Khan was dead. There was no trauma to his body, nor did a cursory check find any unusual substances such as carbon monoxide. Based on his age and the coroner's guidelines, an autopsy was not performed and his death was declared the result of "natural causes," reports the Chicago Tribune.

Though it seemed to be a simple case of bad luck after good, within a week, a family member called and requested that the medical examiner take a closer look. They did, and by December, test results indicated cyanide poisoning. Police are planning to exhume Khan's body and investigate the matter further. The suspected motive is obvious: his lottery winnings.

Vanecko Conspiracy: Daley's Nephew Charged, But What About the Cover-up?

Eight years ago, a drunken brawl led to the death of 21-year-old David Koschman. His group of friends ran into Richard J. Vanecko’s group, Koschman bumped into one of Vanecko’s friends, and moments later, Vanecko punched Koschman, causing him to fall backwards and crack his skull on the pavement. Earlier this week, Vanecko was charged with involuntary manslaughter.

How does it take eight years to bring charges in such a simple case? Vanecko is the nephew of former Mayor Richard M. Daley and grandson of late former Mayor Richard J. Daley. That connection is what supposedly led to an alleged cover-up that allowed Vanecko to go uncharged for eight years, reports the Sun-Times.

CeaseFire Shooting Blanks? Anti-Violence Program Questioned

Chicago has a problem. It involves lead bullets and bodies. While the city has always had murders and murderers, the spike in shootings over the past summer was alarming and demanded action.

With lives at stake, the city took a throw it at the wall and see what sticks approach. They razed buildings that served as stash houses and crash pads for criminals. They closed down businesses that attracted gang crime. The Nation of Islam even joined the fight briefly.

Daniel Baker is Guilty, but Mentally Ill; What Does That Mean?

Guilty. Not guilty. Not guilty by reason of insanity. Guilty but mentally ill. All four were possible outcomes at Daniel Baker’s trial, but the last verdict was the one chosen by the judge, and it is not the same as the insanity defense shown on movies and TV.

For those unfamiliar with Baker’s case, he was accused of bludgeoning his girlfriend’s mother, Marina Aksman, to death after she told Baker that he could no longer see her “cognitively impaired” daughter, reports the Chicago Tribune. Baker threatened the deceased woman, and her husband, in a voicemail. He then drove to their home, crashed his car, beat Aksman to death with a baseball bat, and then took off with his girlfriend in her parents’ car.

Babysitter Mom Told Kids to Pray Before Murdering Son, Witness

She first told investigators that an intruder had broken into the home and murdered the children. Her story then shifted to tales of voices from the devil commanding her to perform the act. Later, she said that the children were poisoned by society and didn't listen to her as they should. Eventually, however, Elzbieta M. Plackowska admitted that she murdered her 7-year-old son, and his 5-year-old friend, because she was mad at her husband, reports the Chicago Tribune.

She told the children to go to bed. Instead, Justin and Olivia began jumping on the bed in the master bedroom. According to prosecutors, Plackowska went to the kitchen, found a knife, entered the bedroom, and then told the children to pray. She told Justin that he was going to heaven before cutting his throat and stabbing him 100 times. She then stabbed Olivia about 50 times because she was a witness. Two dogs were also stabbed to death in the rampage.

Former 'Death Row' Cop, Accomplice, Arrested for 'Kill Room' Plot

These men have been watching far too much Dexter. Former death row inmate and Chicago Police Department officer Steven Mandell (formerly Manning), 61, and his fellow former cop turned accomplice Gary Engel, 61, were arrested by the FBI today on charges of attempted extortion and conspiracy to commit extortion, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

Oh yeah, and they also allegedly planned to dismember the victim’s body and drain the blood in a specially outfitted killing room, dubbed by the duo as “Club Med.”