Old Town man shot friend dead in money dispute, prosecutors say

Rotonio Esco | CPD

A Chicago man fatally shot his friend in a dispute over money and was then seen dragging the dying man’s body through an Old Town apartment building, prosecutors said Friday.

Rotonio Esco is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the death of 32-year-old Courtney Horton on the 1300 block of North Hudson early Wednesday. Judge John Lyke ordered Esco held without bail.

Security guards at Marshall Field Garden Apartments reported hearing Esco tell Horton that Horton owed him money about 30 minutes before the murder, Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said during a bond hearing Friday. Horton told Esco he didn’t have any money, the guards said.

About 10 minutes later, around 2:10 a.m., security officers responded to calls of shots fired in one of the complex’s apartment buildings. One guard found Horton bleeding in a stairwell and went to get help. When she returned, Horton’s body was gone — and Esco was dragging it down an attached hallway, Murphy said. Police later found eight shell casings in the stairwell.

Another security officers said he saw Horton gasping for air on the floor as Esco ran past the guard in the hallway.

Murphy said Horton was shot in the thigh, chest, both wrists, and bicep. He was pronounced dead a short time later at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Arriving police officers saw Esco walking toward the housing complex exit with blood on his pants leg, according to Murphy. Esco allegedly ran when the officers tried to ask him about the blood.

Esco dropped a cellphone, his identification, and a loaded 9-millimeter handgun as he ran, Murphy said. Police heard a condo building’s sliding glass door break as they searched for Esco in the 1300 block of North Cleveland.

Murphy said Esco entered an occupied residence through the broken door, accessed the roof, used a walkway to get on a neighboring roof, and then broke into the second residence.

Inside the second home, a woman awakened to find Esco in her bedroom saying, “get on the f*cking ground,” Murphy alleged. Police arrested Esco when he returned to the roof.

As officers stood Esco up to take him to a police vehicle, a shell casing fell from him onto the roof, Murphy said. Cops allegedly found twelve bloody $100 bills in Esco’s pants pocket. But the pocket that held the money was not blood-soaked, Murphy said.

Shell casings from the murder scene have been matched to the gun Esco allegedly ditched.

Defense attorney Herbert Goldberg said Horton was in possession of a screwdriver at the time of the shooting.

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