Man killed in panhandling turf war, prosecutors say

Mary Normand in a 2020 mugshot (inset) and the crime scene. | CPD; SixCornersNeighbors

A dispute between a homeless woman and a homeless man over panhandling turf ended with the man being murdered on the Chicago expressway exit ramp, prosecutors said.

Mary Normand, 26, beat Eriberto Hernandez, 47, with a metal fencing stake, pushed him into the path of a moving truck, and then continued to beat him with the stake until witnesses intervened, prosecutor Danny Hanichak said during a bail hearing on Monday afternoon.

Normand was ordered held without bail by Judge Maryam Ahmad.

Hanichak said Normand and Hernandez had “ongoing issues” about panhandling on the southbound Edens Expressway exit ramp at Wilson Avenue. Those tensions flared up again around 2:45 p.m. Friday when Normand accused Hernandez of panhandling in her territory. The pair argued, then physically fought, he said.

The victim was beaten with a metal fencing post similar to these, according to a witness. | Amazon

Several witnesses watched as Normand chased Hernandez with a 3-foot-long metal fencing post and then began to hit him with it, Hanichak said. Hernandez tried to defend himself as he retreated across the southbound exit ramp, but Normand kept attacking him with the post, according to Hanichak.

Normand allegedly pushed Hernandez at one point, causing him to fall under the back wheels of a moving company truck, which rolled over his chest.

Even after that, Normand continued to hit Hernandez in the head and body with the stake as he screamed for help. Normand finally dropped the stake and left the scene after a witness intervened, according to Hanichak.

Hernandez died on Saturday evening from heart failure caused by internal bleeding, Hanichak said. The Cook County medical examiner’s office ruled the death a homicide.

Normand has one misdemeanor conviction in Chicago from two years ago, with several other convictions for mostly minor charges in Portland, Maine, according to Hanichak.

But Assistant Public Defender Jennifer Hodel argued that Normand does not fit the state’s description of the murderer being a homeless panhandler. In fact, Normand lives with her fiancé, has been working for a real estate company for three years, and has no history of violent crimes, according to Hodel.

Normand is due back in court on September 2.

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