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Crime Four-time felon pleads not guilty in killing of Chicago police commander

02:56  13 march  2018
02:56  13 march  2018 Source:   chicagotribune.com

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Chicago police officers gather for a candlelight vigil for police Cmdr. Paul Bauer outside the Near North District headquarters Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, in Chicago. The 53-year-old Bauer, who had been with the department 31 years, was fatally shot as he went to assist other officers who were pursuing the suspect, Shomari Legghette, in downtown Chicago on Tuesday. Legghette is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting of Bauer. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) © The Associated Press Chicago police officers gather for a candlelight vigil for police Cmdr. Paul Bauer outside the Near North District headquarters Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, in Chicago. The 53-year-old Bauer, who had been with the department 31 years, was fatally shot as he went to assist other officers who were pursuing the suspect, Shomari Legghette, in downtown Chicago on Tuesday. Legghette is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting of Bauer. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) CHICAGO — A four-time felon pleaded not guilty Monday to a 56-count indictment charging him in the killing of Chicago police Cmdr. Paul Bauer last month.

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Shomari Legghette, 44, clad in an orange jail jumpsuit with his hands shackled, made his initial appearance before Cook County Judge Erica Reddick, who was randomly assigned Monday to handle the case.

Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson attended the arraignment along with about a dozen other uniformed police officers in the Leighton Criminal Court Building.

Reddick told Legghette of the 56 counts he faces — a number that drew murmurs from the crowded courtroom gallery.

Over the objections of Legghette's lawyers, Reddick granted prosecutors' request to sign an order prohibiting the public release of audio, video, reports or anything else that may be considered potential evidence in the case.

Reddick has been on the bench since 2010 after an extensive career as a Cook County assistant public defender. Last year, she presided over the trial of Edgardo Colon, who was convicted of murder in the 2011 shooting of off-duty Chicago police Officer Clifton Lewis during a botched armed robbery of a West Side convenience store where Lewis was working security. Reddick sentenced Colon, the alleged getaway driver, to 84 years in prison in October. A co-defendant is awaiting trial.

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Legghette's 56 felony charges include 24 first-degree murder counts as well as additional armed violence, weapons and drug charges. Prosecutors intend to seek a life sentence if he is convicted of Bauer's killing.

Bauer's midday slaying last month outside the Thompson Center in downtown Chicago shocked the city and provoked criticism from police that Legghette shouldn't have been walking the streets with his extensive criminal record.

Legghette was scheduled to go on trial in 2009 on felony gun and drug charges after serving about eight years in prison for armed robbery when prosecutors suddenly agreed to a deal in which he pleaded guilty to the least serious charge in return for a 3-year prison sentence. Since he had already spent 15 months in custody on those charges, Legghette was released from custody a few weeks later.

On Feb. 13, officers patrolling Lower Wacker Drive because of a recent shooting and drug sales in the area approached Legghette, but he took off running, authorities said.

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Bauer, downtown for a meeting with aldermen after attending training for mass shootings earlier in the day, heard a radio call of a fleeing suspect and spotted Legghette running nearby moments later, authorities said.

Bauer chased down Legghette at the top of a stairwell outside the Thompson Center and attempted to detain him, authorities said. The two struggled, ending up on a landing below. Legghette, who was wearing body armor, drew a handgun and fired seven shots, fatally wounding Bauer, prosecutors said.

Bauer's weapon was still holstered. His police radio and handcuffs were found next to his body.

Officers found a loaded 9 mm handgun with an extended magazine in Legghette's possession as well as heroin, marijuana and cocaine, prosecutors said.

Legghette, ordered held without bail last month, is being held in Kankakee County Jail, records show.

At Legghette's bond hearing, prosecutors revealed that three civilian witnesses identified him as the man who struggled with Bauer at the top of the Thompson Center stairwell. Surveillance video also captured the struggle, they said, and Legghette's right hand and coat tested positive for gunshot residue.

Legghette's criminal history includes convictions in two drug cases, a gun offense, a misdemeanor battery and a robbery in the late 1990s in which he and a co-defendant robbed two people at gunpoint before leading police on a high-speed expressway chase, prosecutors have said.

A new police and fire training academy in West Garfield Park will be named after Bauer, authorities announced in the days after his slaying.

NM man who killed parents as teen found guilty in new torture case .
A man convicted of killing and burying his parents in the family’s backyard in the 1980s has been found guilty in yet another case. On Wednesday, Mitchell Overhand was found guilty of false imprisonment and conspiracy to commit tampering with evidence. The latest charges stem from the brutal torture of Matthew Tressler.

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