It’s been two months since Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans said, “it’s not by magic that we haven’t had any horrible incidents occur using this new [affordable bail] system,” during budget hearings on Nov. 4.
Since then, we’ve told you about seven different people who are currently facing murder charges for crimes that they allegedly committed while free on “affordable bail” awaiting trial for charges such as Class X felony armed violence, unlawful use of a weapon, and repeated use of a weapon by a felon.
It’s hard to fathom how Evans would conclude that those murders and shootings committed by persons on affordable bail weren’t “horrible incidents.”
Since November, our team has come across new cases in which men have been charged with killing or shooting people while on affordable bail awaiting trial for serious crimes. Here’s a look at these new “not horrible” situations:
• Last February, prosecutors charged 19-year-old Armando Lopez with felony aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, felony possession of a controlled substance, and driving on a revoked license after Chicago police allegedly found a rifle in his vehicle on the 2700 block of South Kedzie. Judge David Navarro allowed Lopez to go home after posting a $500 bond.
While he was out, Lopez got another gun which he used to shoot and killed 32-year-old nurse Frank Aguilar whom he mistook for a rival gang member on Nov. 13, according to allegations in court records.
Lopez is now being held without bail.
• In April 2019, prosecutors charged 24-year-old Josue Becerra with having a loaded 45-caliber handgun in his vehicle in Albany Park. Judge David Navarro released him for $200.
Then, on July 23, police were flagged down by a man who told them that three men in a red Jeep pointed a gun at him near the 4900 block of North Milwaukee. A few minutes later, officers tried to pull Becerra over as he drove a red Jeep nearby. Police say he sped away, drove in the wrong lane, and cruised onto the Kennedy Expressway before they caught up with him. He was charged with fleeing and eluding, possession of ecstasy, and multiple traffic violations.
Even though he was still on bail for the April gun violation, Judge Charles Beach let him go home by posting another $500 bond.
Finally, on Jan. 21, a couple of Chicago cops said they were doing undercover surveillance when they heard gunfire and saw Becerra run past their covert car with a gun in his hand.
Police tried to stop him, but Becerra got into a car that sped away and eventually crashed in North Center. He and the driver were immediately arrested
Horribly, the shots left a 43-year-old man in critical condition. Prosecutors charged Becerra with attempted murder, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, aggravated battery of a police officer, and aggravated assault of a police officer. This time, he was ordered held without bail.
• Then there’s Lafayette Hodges. Prosecutors last April charged him with biting and punching police officers who tried to serve him with a warrant on the West Side. In bond court, Judge David Navarro made a handwritten note about Hodges’ background on the case cover sheet: “juvie justice attempt armed robbery.”
Despite that background, 18-year-old Hodges was allowed to go home by posting a $200 deposit.
While awaiting trial in May, he was charged with manufacture delivery of narcotics near a park or school. He was released on his own recognizance and prosecutors dropped the case in June.
Then, still awaiting trial in August, he was charged with manufacture-delivery of heroin. He was again released on his own recognizance and prosecutors dropped that case in October.
Two days after Christmas, Hodges’ girlfriend was fatally shot. Hodges told police that he thought the gun was empty when he pointed it at the girl’s head and pulled the trigger. The gun wasn’t empty. Police said Hodges ran from the house with the gun before emergency crews even arrived.
Based on his juvenile robbery conviction, Hodges is not allowed to possess any firearm. Prosecutors charged him only with involuntary manslaughter.
Judge Arthur Willis revoked Hodges’ bail on the April case and set bail for the death of his girlfriend at $50,000.
• Back on Oct. 9, prosecutors charged Vertis Peterson with felony possession of a firearm during a narcotics act. He went free after paying a $200 deposit as ordered by Judge David Navarro.
Exactly one month later, on Nov. 9, something seemingly horrible happened.
Prosecutors say that’s when the 26-year-old got into an argument with a 63-year-old man who was walking down the 7100 block of South May. At some point, Peterson pulled out a handgun, walked up to the older man, and shot him six times until the revolver ran out of ammunition, according to allegations made in court.
The victim survived and later identified Peterson in a photo line-up, police said.
Judge Charles Beach ordered him held without bail.