A Roseland woman and an accomplice killed a 57-year-old man in his South Loop apartment during a drug deal in January, prosecutors said yesterday.
Chrystal Martin and her accomplice were arrested less than two weeks after the murder, but the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office initially declined to file charges based on their self-defense claims, according to Assistant State’s Attorney Danny Hanichak. An arrest warrant has been issued for the man accused of murder.
Chicago police found Timothy Vallianatos dead inside his apartment in the 2100 block of South Michigan around 9:15 p.m. on January 4 after his neighbors reported hearing a disturbance in his unit.
Hanichak said Martin and the accomplice contacted Vallianatos about a drug transaction and set a meeting time. Martin and the man traveled to the South Loop in Martin’s car and stopped at a restaurant along the way to order food with her Link card, Hanichak said.
Surveillance video from Vallianatos’ building shows Martin and the accomplice entering shortly before the murder, and the accomplice signed a sign-in sheet at the front desk, according to Hanichak.
Just after 9 p.m., the front desk attendant received a noise complaint from a resident on Vallianatos’ floor, and she went upstairs to investigate. As she stepped off the elevator, a nearby stairwell door closed, and video showed Martin and the accomplice exiting the lobby, Hanichak continued.
Police responded to reports of a person calling for help around the same time and discovered Vallianatos in his unlocked apartment with a gunshot wound to his face and blunt force trauma throughout his body.
Meanwhile, Martin and the man returned to the restaurant to pick up their food.
On January 16, Chicago police arrested Martin and the man, and they both admitted to having a physical altercation at Vallianatos’ apartment during a drug transaction, according to Hanichak. However, the couple claimed self-defense, and the state’s attorney’s felony review unit declined charges and told investigators to return with more evidence.
Police located one of Vallianatos’ neighbors who said they heard a woman screaming about money and Vallianatos’ saying he had credit cards, which the female voice rejected, Hanichak said. The witness heard the woman’s voice say, “put him to sleep,” followed by the sound of choking.
Another neighbor reported hearing scuffling and arguing as Vallianatos screamed for help.
Martin’s public defender told Judge Charles Beach that she thought she would be a witness in CPD’s case against the man who remains at large. Instead, Martin is charged with first-degree murder. The attorney argued that Martin didn’t run away after learning that police were investigating her, which suggests that she is not a flight risk.
Beach agreed and turned down the state’s request to keep Martin in jail without bail. Instead, she will be required to post a $30,000 deposit toward bail to be released from jail.