Prosecutors dropped his felony gun case due to COVID, then he allegedly killed a 16-year-old

Johnny Martin Jr | CPD

A Chicago man is accused of shooting a 16-year-old boy to death just months after prosecutors dropped felony gun charges against him due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Late on August 8, 2020, police officers who responded to a ShotSpotter gunfire detection alert in North Lawndale allegedly saw 24-year-old Johnny Martin Jr. and another man walking rapidly toward a gangway with black objects in their hands.

Cops ran in to the gangway and saw Martin walking toward them with empty hands — but two guns were sitting on a nearby ledge, prosecutors said during a bond court hearing the next day.

Martin, who had just been discharged from parole nine days earlier, was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and the other man was charged with felony unlawful use of a weapon. But prosecutors dropped the charges against Martin in October because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said as he laid out new murder allegations yesterday.

According to Murphy, the events that led to the slaying of 16-year-old Carlito Rainey began on the evening of April 6 in the 3100 block of West Douglas in North Lawndale.

Rainey and some family members were sitting on a front porch when a 12-year-old boy passed by and said something like “GDK,” a gang phrase that means “Gangster Disciple killer.”

Rainey told the kid to go away, but the boy said he’d return. And he did. A short time later, the 12-year-old and about 10 other young boys entered Rainey’s yard and began fighting with Rainey and his family. During the altercation, someone hit the 12-year-old with a stick, Murphy said.

Later that evening, the 12-year-old approached Martin at a party and said someone beat him with a baseball bat in a park, according to Murphy. Martin allegedly loaded the 12-year-old into a car and a third person drove them to Rainey’s house.

When they arrived, the 12-year-old pointed to Rainey. Martin got out and opened fire on the front porch where Rainey and his family members were hanging out, Murphy said. Martin then returned to the car, which sped away, according to Murphy.

Rainey died from four gunshot wounds, including two to his head.

Investigators traced the car’s license plate. The owner admitted to driving Martin to Rainey’s home, but she told police she had no idea that he would shoot anyone, Murphy said.

More than two months after the murder, prosecutors decided to pursue the gun charge they dismissed due to COVID. A grand jury indicted Martin in the old gun case, and a warrant was issued for his arrest on June 21. When cops found him on Monday, he was carrying a 9-millimeter handgun with an extended ammunition magazine and a laser sight, Murphy said.

Martin was charged Thursday with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, and unlawful use of a weapon by a felon for allegedly possessing the handgun this week. He is also charged with unlawful use of a weapon by a felon for the case prosecutors tossed out due to COVID. Murphy said the state expects to file additional attempted murder charges for other members of Rainey’s family who were fired upon.

Assistant Public Defender Stephen Journey said Martin has volunteered for a church youth center for, ironically, 12 years. Journey argued that the gun Martin was arrested with this week is a different caliber from the one used to kill Rainey.

Judge David Navarro was unconvinced. He ordered Martin held without bail on the new allegations and set bail at $100,000 for the resurrected gun case from last year.

Martin doesn’t qualify for our growing list of people who’ve been accused of committing heinous crimes in Chicago while on bail for a felony because prosecutors dropped his felony gun case due to COVID. So, he’ll have to settle for a dishonorable mention.

Previous dishonorable mentions

#1: Paroled home invader is accused of committing murder while lollygagging authorities let his gun and drug case drift (September 1, 2021)

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