5 charged with robbing, stabbing passenger on Red Line train

Prosecutors on Sunday accused five people of attacking and robbing a passenger on the Red Line early Friday. The accused include a man convicted of murder in 1987 and a man who has been arrested by Chicago police 30 times in the past 32 months—including once for allegedly robbing a Loop convenience store in December. He’s been arrested nine times since then, according to CPD records.

Left to right: Shawn Gullens, Martinez Owens, Latoya Thomas, and Larone Williams. | CPD

Shawn Gullens, 20, Latoya Thomas, 22, Martinez Owens, 24, Larone Williams, 36, and Vernon Holman, 52, face robbery and aggravated battery charges.

According to prosecutor Ashley Behncke, the victim, 42, does not know any of the people who attacked him as he rode a southbound train around 2:06 a.m.

As the train traveled between Fullerton and North-Clybourn, Owens and an unidentified man started wrestling with the victim and threatened to beat him if he did not hand over his phone, according to Behncke.

Behncke stated that two more people entered the car, and one of them kicked the victim while he was on the floor, prompting him to pull out a knife and stab Owens in the back.

Owens and three unknown attackers left the train car and the victim moved between cars, all while the train was moving, she said.

The victim called 911 while holding the door shut so no one else could get in the car with him.

Homan then approached the door, and the victim let him into his train car because he didn’t recognize Homan as one of the attackers, according to Behncke.

After Homan entered the car, he wrestled the victim to the ground, Behncke continued. The victim stabbed Homan in the neck and exited the train when it arrived at North-Clybourn.

On the platform, the attack continued.

Behncke said Williams hit the victim in the head with a bottle, causing it to shatter. And Homan came off the car to stab the victim in the shoulder, she continued. The victim ran back into the train, allegedly followed by Thomas and Gullens.

Gullens, according to Behncke, took the victim’s bookbag and hit him in the head with a bottle while Homan and Williams continued to attack.

The victim managed to open one of the train doors and fled onto the tracks to call 911 again. He was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital with facial fractures, cuts to his face and head, scrapes, bruises, and a stab wound, Behncke said.

Police arrested all five of the accused on-scene, along with a sixth person who was not charged. Behncke said the victim identified all five, and CTA video supports the allegations.

Judge Barbara Dawkins ordered Thomas, who has two misdemeanor convictions under the name Juwana Gause, to pay a $5,000 deposit toward bail to be released.

Homan did not attend the bail hearing in person because he remained hospitalized, according to a Chicago police officer who appeared in court.

In 1987, he was convicted of murder and conspiracy to commit murder and sentenced to 25 years in prison, according to Behncke. He was convicted of narcotics offenses in 2006, 2008, 2009, and 2014.

Dawkins said he had to pay a $25,000 deposit and an extra $100 to get out of jail because he had broken the rules of his bail in a pending misdemeanor assault case.

Gullens, who has a pending theft case and a misdemeanor gun conviction in Indiana, must post a bond of $7,500 to be released. According to a public defender, he is studying for his GED at Truman College.

The defense lawyer said Owens works two jobs to support his wife and two children, one of whom is a week old. He has a pending retail theft case, Behncke said. The judge also ordered him to pay $7,500 to get out of jail.

Then there’s Larone Williams.

Behncke said he was convicted of criminal sexual assault and theft in 2010. He has five misdemeanor convictions and received probation for a retail theft conviction last week.

But we published a story about Williams on Christmas Day, hours after prosecutors charged him and two others with physically attacking and pepper-spraying a 7-Eleven cashier during a robbery in the Loop. And CPD records show he has been arrested 30 times since November 2019, including nine times this year, primarily for misdemeanors.

Court records show prosecutors dropped the convenience store robbery case on January 24. On the evening before the alleged store robbery, he was arrested for battery at the Roosevelt CTA station. He pleaded guilty to that on February 24 and received a sentence of seven days considered served. During that same hearing, he pleaded guilty to trespassing on state land and received another time-served sentence. 

He received 30 days of time served for trespassing on St. Patrick’s Day, was arrested 12 days later for retail theft, and received a two-day sentence.

Less than a week after that arrest, he was again arrested for trespassing and retail theft. Prosecutors dropped the charges in May. They dropped another battery case from April, too.

On April 13, he was charged with eight counts of misdemeanor retail theft. CPD records show he walked out of the police station on his own recognizance less than nine hours after he arrived. He pleaded guilty to one count last Tuesday and received a year of probation. Records show that he also received a concurrent year of probation for yet another retail theft case.

While those cases were pending, he was charged with retail theft, which prosecutors dropped. In May, they also dropped another trespassing case.

You get the picture.

On Sunday, his public defender said he is homeless, has six kids, and is looking for work. Judge Dawkins ordered him to pay a $10,000 bail deposit to go home.

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