Now charged with murder, Chicago man had a ‘success story so moving it was featured on ABC News’

Chicago — Like too many young Chicagoans, Kevin McMurtry dropped out of high school and then spent years struggling to find his way. He racked up three felony convictions between 2006 and 2012 for non-violent crimes. In 2020, as a new father at the age of 34, he decided to get on track. He joined the anti-violence program Chicago CRED and earned his GED.

Kevin McMurtry | Chicago Police Department

After raising his now 3-year-old daughter alone, he recently married. Everything seemed to be going the right way.

He had a “success story so moving it was featured on ABC News,” his defense attorney said Thursday after prosecutors charged him with first-degree murder.

“I wish my granddaddy was here,” McMurtry told ABC7 after his GED graduation in 2021. “He’s been gone since 2019. His favorite words was, ‘Life goes on. No matter what, life goes on.'”

“Kevin is an excellent father,” Robert Hill, one of McMurtry’s life coaches, told the news station. “He’s been a great guy to have on your caseload.”

Now, McMurtry’s life has changed again, in the worst way possible.

During a bail hearing on Thursday afternoon, prosecutor Anne McCord said McMurtry’s wife was driving in the 1600 block of West 59th Street around 12:30 p.m. on March 4 when another driver cut in front of her. She had to swerve to avoid hitting the other car, which soon pulled over and parked.

Passengers in his wife’s car called McMurtry at work and told him what happened. When his wife arrived at their home, which is located behind McMurtry’s workplace, McMurtry got behind the wheel. With his wife in the back seat and another passenger sitting up front, he allegedly drove back to where the other car had parked.

Coincidentally, the other car was pulling out of its parking spot when McMurtry pulled up.

McCord said McMurtry crossed the center line and drove straight at the other car, firing one shot from his driver’s side window. The bullet hit the other car’s passenger, 28-year-old Jamel Fields, and killed him.

After firing the shot, McMurtry pulled a U-turn and returned to work.

Police arrested him on Tuesday. During an interview with police, he allegedly admitted to leaving work, driving back to find the other car, and firing a shot with one of two guns that the front seat passenger had.

McMurtry’s defense attorney, Stephanie Buck, argued that the situation may be “more akin” to road rage and argued the victim may have “unclean hands.”

“I find this unfortunate because you’re the kind of person who doesn’t usually come before me on a charge like this, Judge Ankur Srivastava told McMurtry before holding him without bail.

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