Chicago police commander approved murder charges in hammer attack because prosecutors refused to do it, records show

Prosecutors refused to approve murder charges against a man who allegedly admitted to killing the victim with a hammer this weekend, according to law enforcement sources and court records. So, a Chicago police detective commander stepped in to override the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office decision, the records show.

Investigators had seemingly overwhelming evidence against Gregory Stamps. He allegedly admitted to killing the victim, dragging the dying naked man down three flights of stairs, dumping him in an alley, and tossing the man’s clothes into a dumpster.

When cops crossed paths with Stamps minutes after the murder, he allegedly had blood on his hands and clothes and the dead man’s wallet in his pocket.

Coincidentally, he was on parole for attempted murder.

But prosecutors repeatedly declined to approve murder charges because Stamps, who originally told police he was covered in blood because he fell into a pool of it, claimed the victim tried to rape him, a source said.

The state’s attorney’s felony review unit “was going with possible self-defense but they wanted the hammer processed to find [Stamps’] prints or DNA even though he admitted to killing the guy with [the] hammer,” said the source. “They’re just looking for any reason to deny charges.”

At 12:38 a.m. Tuesday, 44 hours after cops arrested Stamps, Area 1 Detective Commander Charles Brown stepped in to approve the murder charge, according to Stamps’ arrest report.

The state’s attorney’s office declined to comment for this story because the case “is pending litigation.”

A history

Stamps, 31, has been on parole since May 2018 after serving a little over five years of a six-year sentence he received for attempted murder and a concurrent three-year sentence for domestic battery.

Gregory Stamps | CPD

He pleaded guilty to stabbing the victim in that case after originally claiming self-defense, Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said Tuesday.

Last month, police arrested Stamps at Hydrate nightclub in Boystown.

Murphy said he confronted an ex-boyfriend at the bar, saying, “I’m gonna f*ck you up. I’m gonna shoot you and this entire club,” Murphy said.

Stamps allegedly punched a bouncer in the face when they intervened. He was charged with misdemeanor counts of assault and battery, then left the Lakeview police station on his own recognizance less than six hours later, according to CPD records. The case is still pending.

Another night out

On Saturday night, Stamps met 42-year-old David Castile at Club Escape, an LGBTQ-friendly bar on the 1500 block of East 75th Street. Castile offered to give him a ride home from the club.

Early Sunday morning, Castile was in Stamps’ third-floor bedroom when Stamps struck him 20 to 30 times in the head with a hammer, Murphy said.

Stamps then dragged Castile’s naked body down three flights of stairs, down a hallway, out the back door, and to the alley, according to Murphy. He allegedly tossed Castile’s clothes into a dumpster and went back inside. But he never called 911, Murphy said.

Another resident of the building saw Stamps walking back through the hall and noticed a trail of blood leading to the back door, Murphy continued. The witness called 911 “several times” then waited for the police.

Cops followed the blood trail to the alley and found Castile, who, despite suffering severe head trauma, was still clinging to life. The officers “tried lifesaving measures,” Murphy said, but Castile died at the University of Chicago Hospital at 7:30 Sunday morning.

An arrest

Around 4:50 a.m. Sunday, investigators encountered Stamps in the first floor hallway. They saw blood on his palm, on his clothes, and on the top of his shoe, Murphy said. They immediately detained him — and allegedly found Castile’s wallet in his pants pocket.

When cops asked Stamps why he was covered with blood, he allegedly told them he fell down the stairs and landed in a pool of it.

Moments later, he offered another story, according to Murphy.

“I’m gonna be honest,” Stamps allegedly told the cops. “He was just trying to rape me.”

Police read Stamps the Miranda warning, but he kept talking, Murphy said. He again admitted to killing Castile with a hammer and told officers it happened in his bedroom, according to Murphy. Police body cameras recorded his statements.

In the bedroom, cops allegedly found a blood-soaked mattress, blood on the walls, and a hammer.

As CPD body cameras rolled, Stamps told police he “beat [Castile’s] ass” and he hoped Castile was dead, Murphy alleged. But he did not have an explanation for why Castile’s wallet was in his pants pocket, why he dragged the body to the alley, or why he tossed Castile’s clothes into the trash, Murphy continued.

“The medical examiner said there were 20 to 30 skull defects,” Murphy told Judge Kelly McCarthy on Tuesday afternoon. “That’s 20 to 30 shots to the head that this defendant gave over and over and over again with that hammer. That is not self-defense. That is first-degree murder. And I would point out there are no injuries on this defendant. None.”

“He doesn’t call police. Doesn’t call 911. What he does is he tries to get rid of the body,” Murphy continued. “The first thing he says is ‘I fell down the stairs,’ not ‘he tried to rape me.'”

Stamps’ defense attorney pointed to self-defense as a possible defense against the murder charge. She said Stamps lived alone in the apartment and recently earned his GED.

Judge McCarthy ordered Stamps held without bail. The Illinois Department of Corrections is also reviewing his parole status, according to court records.

An override

Murphy’s argument for why the allegations against Stamps are first-degree murder and not self-defense seems to stand in stark contrast to the vision of prosecutors in the state’s attorney’s felony review unit.

After police arrest someone, they generally have 48 hours to bring charges. If they don’t, the person is released.

So, as Stamps reached hour #44 in police custody early Tuesday, Detective Commander Brown signed off on the murder charges that prosecutors would not approve, according to court records.

Last September, another detective commander overrode prosecutors who refused to file murder charges against a man suspected of killing a 7-year-old girl and wounding her younger sister on the Northwest Side.

But high-ranking CPD leaders stepped in and overruled the decision by Area 5 Detective Commander Eric Winstrom in order to avoid a public clash with the office of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.

The case lingered for weeks until prosecutors eventually approved the case.

Winstrom has since left CPD to lead the Grand Rapids Police Department.

In May 2021, Area 4 Detective Commander Richard Wiser overrode prosecutors who refused to approve aggravated battery charges against a man that police believed shot two women. CPD issued a press release to announce the charges against Joshua Jones.

When Jones appeared in bond court hours later, Assistant State’s Attorney Kevin Deboni stunned Judge John Lyke by immediately dropping the case “based on insufficient evidence.”

“Wow! Okay,” Judge Lyke replied.

“No objection,” joked Peter Faraci, Jones’ private defense attorney.

“I’m certain,” Lyke countered.

In February, Jones was in bond court again to face charges in yet another set of allegations. Prosecutors said he kicked in the front door of a woman he was living with, threatened to shoot her, and beat her with a gun that had a 50-round drum magazine attached. Prosecutors have never approved the charges that they dropped in bond court last year.

Pending litigation

While the state’s attorney’s office cited “pending litigation” as its reason for not providing comment for this report, Foxx has personally appeared at press conferences to talk about charges in pending cases.

Our original reporting is 100% reader-funded. Please contribute to our operating fund or purchase a subscription today.

About CWBChicago 6564 Articles
CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com