For some reason, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has decided to take a public stand against having people accused of murder and attempted murder released on electronic monitoring to await trial. There are plenty of accused murderers and attempted murders on bail without electronic monitoring, which would seem to be a bigger risk to the public, but “EM” is the battle she has chosen.
Last Friday, Crain’s columnist Greg Hinz said he asked Lightfoot’s office why they aren’t identifying the defendants who have been placed on EM and the judges who put them there. Lightfoot’s office claimed it doesn’t have access to files maintained by prosecutors and the clerk of court, Hinz reported.
Starting today, CWBChicago will introduce you to the defendants who are on electronic monitoring while facing allegations of committing murder or attempted murder in the city and the judges who put them there.
As of last Thursday, 111 people were on electronic monitoring in Cook County for those charges, according to sheriff’s department records. We decided to look only at cases involving crimes alleged to have occurred in the city by defendants who were placed on electronic monitoring within the past year, regardless of when the crime occurred.
To protect the identities of alleged victims, we are using the defendants’ initials for domestic cases.
James Coleman, 24, Attempted First-Degree Murder
On April 26, 2021, Coleman stepped onto his back porch with a gun and fired a round into the air while his neighbor hosted a backyard barbecue with five adults and three children present, prosecutors said. Coleman allegedly fired three more shots in different directions, causing the children to run in his direction because they thought he had fireworks, according to statements made during Coleman’s bond court hearing.
He then opened the neighbor’s rear gate and fired a single shot toward his neighbor from a couple of feet away, prosecutors said. The bullet missed, but the neighbor said he felt the air move as it whizzed past his head and hit the fence behind him.
He grabbed Coleman’s gun as two of his adult barbecue guests helped overpower Coleman, prosecutors said. Additional shots were fired as the men wrestled for control of the gun, but no one was shot. The struggle ended when one of the barbecue attendees hit Coleman in the face with an empty beer bottle.
Police arrested Coleman after responding to 911 calls and a ShotSpotter gunfire alert. Prosecutors said he denied any knowledge of the incident.
“I was high! I was high!” Coleman interjected during his bond hearing. “I’m a community activist! I have a peace sign on my face!” In fact, Coleman does have a small peace sign tattooed under his left eye.
His public defender argued that the state will have a hard time convicting Coleman of attempted murder because they have to prove he intended to kill his neighbor.
Judge John Lyke, perhaps the county’s strictest bond court judge at the time, agreed, saying attempted murder may be the most difficult charge to prove in all of criminal law.
He denied a state request to hold Coleman without bail because prosecutors failed to demonstrate that Coleman is likely to be convicted of the charge and because, under the circumstances, Coleman has a constitutional right to bond.
Lyke set bail at $75,000 and ordered Coleman to go onto EM if he posts 10% of that amount. A different judge increased the bail amount to $100,000 on May 6, but court records do not show the judge’s name.
Darnell Gaddy, 21, Attempted First-Degree Murder
On July 9, 2020, Gaddy drove to a South Chicago gas station and opened fire on his estranged stepfather, who was working as a security guard at the business, prosecutors said. His stepfather ducked behind some gas pumps and was not injured, but a 52-year-old customer was shot in the leg, according to the allegations.
The injured man’s leg bone was shattered. Surgeons placed titanium rods, plates, and screws in his leg and he was still using crutches and going to physical therapy two months after the shooting, prosecutors said.
Gaddy’s stepfather identified him as the shooter based on the portion of the gunman’s face that was visible, the gunman’s mannerisms, and “having raised him from the age of six,” an assistant state’s attorney said. No video cameras recorded the shooting.
Prosecutors initially charged Gaddy with aggravated battery by discharge of a firearm. A grand jury later returned a 10-count true bill that included attempted murder charges, court records show.
Judge John Lyke set bail at $15,000 and ordered Gaddy to go on EM upon posting a $1,500 deposit.
E.M., 18, Attempted First-Degree Murder
In August 2020, E.M. picked up his ex-girlfriend downtown and became angry as they traveled in his car because she received a text from a male friend, prosecutors said. He allegedly struck her in the face with the phone, punched her in the face, and locked the doors to prevent her from escaping. She got out briefly, then agreed to get back into his car. He drove to a fast food parking lot where they talked about their relationship.
At one point, E.M. reached into the center console, pulled out a knife, and stabbed the woman three times in her neck, prosecutors said. He tried to stab her in the stomach, but she fought him off, suffering cuts to her hands, according to the allegations. Again, EM engaged the door locks when the woman tried to escape, but she eventually got out of the car and sought help from someone at the restaurant drive-thru, prosecutors said.
An ambulance took the woman to the University of Chicago Hospital with stab wounds to her chest, neck, and hands. She underwent two surgeries and suffered a fractured bone in her back from one of the chest stab wounds, according to prosecutors.
E.M. surrendered at a police station with his private attorney. It was his first arrest.
Judge Charles Beach set bail at $500,000 and ordered EM to go onto a GPS tracking system that is different from electronic monitoring and home confinement. Judge Erica Reddick added electronic monitoring as a condition of bail in January 2021 and E.M. posted bond the same day, records show.
Steven McCory, 25, Attempted First-Degree Murder
Last February, the victim borrowed his girlfriend’s car and drove a friend to a Hyde Park alley to buy drugs. When they arrived, a woman began arguing with the friend in the passenger seat and McCory approached on the driver’s side, prosecutors said.
The victim, feeling threatened, pulled out a gun that his girlfriend kept in the car, waved it around, got out of the car, and pointed it at McCory, according to the allegations. Then, the victim returned to the car’s driver’s seat while his friend, the woman, and McCory went into a nearby building. He tried to leave, but his car had become stuck in the snow.
Several minutes later, McCory came out of the building, stood right next to the victim’s car, and began shooting, prosecutors said during McCory’s bond hearing. The victim, struck twice in the torso, sought help at a nearby residence.
Prosecutors said a witness saw McCory shooting at the victim while the car was stuck in the snow. That witness and the victim identified McCory in a photo line-up. Police said McCory was carrying a gun when they arrested him. Shell casings at the shooting scene matched that weapon, prosecutors said.
McCory had never been arrested before and he is licensed to own firearms, but he does not have a concealed carry permit. He had just completed an extensive real estate class and was preparing to take his licensing test at the time of his arrest, according to his defense attorney.
At the time of his bail hearing, McCory was charged with aggravated battery by discharge of a firearm. The charges were upgraded at the grand jury level, court records show.
Judge Susana Ortiz denied the state’s motion to have McCory held without bail because there were allegations that the victim pulled out a gun first. She also said the community could be protected through restrictions less severe than a no-bail hold.
She set bail at $50,000 and ordered McCory to go on EM upon posting 10% of that amount. He went home on April 6, 2021.