Prosecutors on Tuesday filed murder charges against a man who allegedly stabbed a 75-year-old man to death in a Rogers Park gangway last month. The victim, Nanda Bhattarai, initially survived the March 19 attack but died twelve days later, prosecutor James Murphy said during a bond court hearing for the accused man, 26-year-old Cash Johnson.
Footage from a string of surveillance cameras showed Johnson walking from his home to a nearby McDonalds where he bought food with a credit card and began walking home shortly before the attack, Murphy said. More footage shows Johnson walking back toward his home with Bhattarai walking along the same route behind him, according to Murphy.
At some point, Johnson makes a gesture toward Bhattarai who gestures back, Murphy said, without describing what kind of gestures were made.
Johnson is seen turning into a gangway on the 1600 block of West Morse and Bhattarai, walking with a cane, following behind him around 5:40 p.m., Murphy continued. About a minute later, Bhattarai walks out of the gangway holding his stomach and bleeding, he said. Bhattarai walked about two blocks to his home and called 911.
He suffered eight stab wounds, Murphy said: five to the stomach, one to the back hip, and two to his back.
Camera footage allegedly shows Johnson fleeing out the opposite end of the gangway after the stabbing and then jogging to his own apartment.
Police initially said in a community alert last month that the stabbing was part of an armed robbery pattern involving a group of offenders in the Rogers Park neighborhood, but Murphy gave no motive for the attack during Tuesday’s court hearing. The police alert and initial information from officers who responded to the 911 call indicated that three people were involved in the attack.
Police arrested Johnson at his home this week and recovered the shoes and jacket he was seen wearing on the video footage, Murphy said. Johnson allegedly gave various explanations for what transpired in the gangway, including that some men who were armed with a knife tried to rob him. He later claimed that he called the elderly man into the gangway because he thought the 75-year-old wanted to buy weed from him, Murphy said.
Johnson has been wanted on a probation violation in a narcotics case since January 2020, according to Murphy.
A public defender said Johnson suffers is being treated for mental health conditions including schizophrenia.
Judge Susana Ortiz ordered Johnson held without bail.
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