Chrys Carvajal was a 19-year-old newly-minted National Guardsman when he visited his family for a Fourth of July party on the Northwest Side last month. Someone shot him dead when he stepped away from the party to get something from his car, according to police.
A few days ago, CPD detectives asked prosecutors in the office of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx to charge a 38-year-old high-ranking gang member with a long history of guns and violence with murder for the apparently random murder of Carvajal.
But prosecutors refused to file charges citing insufficient evidence. They sent the cops marching with directions to get more proof.
“This coward did not know my brother. He did not even speak to my brother. He simply saw an opportunity to kill and shot with no remorse whatsoever,” Carvajal’s sister said during a press conference Friday.
“Video evidence and three eyewitnesses have been presented” to prosecutors, Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th) said on Twitter Friday, “however murder charges were rejected.” Cops also told prosecutors that the suspect’s car and phone were at or near the murder scene when Carvajal was killed, according to a source.
It’s a scenario that has unfolded with increasing regularity since Foxx took office in December 2016.
Foxx’s murder case rejection rate is significantly higher than her predecessor, Anita Alvarez. Last year, Cook County prosecutors refused to pursue 26% of the murder cases Chicago cops brought to them for charging, according to the office’s data portal. In 2019, Foxx’s office rejected 29% of CPD’s attempts to charge murderers.
Facts first. 100% reader-funded. Click here to support CWBChicago today.
Foxx’s office chalks the rejection rate up to higher standards and ethical obligations. But those supposedly stricter standards aren’t producing more convictions, according to Foxx’s own data.
Last year, Foxx’s office lost 20% of murder cases, the data shows. The year before, her prosecutors lost 22% of murder cases. The first two years of Foxx’s tenure showed murder conviction rates in line with Alvarez’s performance. But murder cases take years to resolve and many, if not most, of the cases resolved during Foxx’s first two years were likely approved by Alvarez’s office.
“This family deserves justice as well as the hundreds of families who have unsolved murders pending #pleasedoyourjob,” Ald. Villegas tweeted Friday.
Villegas said he took his quest for justice to Illinois’ two U.S. senators, Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, hoping federal authorities might step in to take the case.
He also encouraged people to take direct action.
“We need you to contact Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx at 312-603-1880 or firstname.lastname@example.org and demand justice for Chrys Carvajal,” Villegas tweeted. “Please help us and assure we are being heard loud & clear.”
Last December, CWBChicago detailed the exhaustive efforts Chicago police detectives made to get Foxx’s office to approve murder charges in a slaying that was captured on crystal clear video. While a series of different prosecutors ordered detectives to dig up new and changing pieces of evidence, the murderer packed his bags and flew home to China. Foxx’s office eventually approved charges after the alleged killer returned to his home country.
A 54-page government file, provided to CWBChicago by the victim’s family, shows no fewer than seven different prosecutors refused to charge the suspect at different times over the span of nearly four months. Six of those refusals took place after detectives collected video footage of the slaying, records show.
According to the file, almost every refusal came from a different assistant state’s attorney, each of whom had new sets of tasks for detectives to complete before charges might be approved.
After prosecutors rejected the case for the seventh time, a Chicago police lieutenant intervened to insist that murder charges be sought. By then, though, the suspect was already out of the country and beyond the reach of law enforcement.
“An arrest warrant has been issued,” a detective writes in the final paragraph of the case file. “The Department of Homeland Security has verified that the offender, Fangqi Lu, has fled to Shanghai, China. There is no extradition treaty between the United States and China, because of this it precludes the arrest and prosecution of the offender.”
Please support CWBChicago’s reporting efforts with a contribution or subscription. Members-only perks await!