CHICAGO — Prosecutors say a Chicago man sentenced to life in prison in 1983, only to be resentenced and released in 2016, killed two people and tried to kill a third while he was on electronic monitoring for a felony gun case Sunday morning.
He is the fifth person accused of killing or trying to kill someone in Chicago this year while awaiting trial for a felony. The cases involve seven victims, four of whom died.
Steven Hawthorne, 55, used a key to enter his 26-year-old ex-girlfriend’s South Side home around 1:40 a.m. and shot her current boyfriend dead as he slept next to the woman, Assistant State’s Attorney Anne McCord said during a bail hearing Tuesday afternoon.
Awakened by the gunshots, the woman’s young children, ages 5 and 3, ran to the living room to get help from a 63-year-old relative who also lived in the home. The man tried to get the children upstairs, but Hawthorne allegedly came up behind him on a stairwell and put a gun to his head, which they struggled to control.
Hawthorne fired two shots at the man, missing both times, but the victim pretended to be shot, and Hawthorne fled out the door in pursuit of his ex-girlfriend, McCord said.
He fired at least one shot at her, striking her in the arm, then sat on top of her and pistol-whipped her in the head repeatedly as a nearby Ring doorbell camera was recording, McCord continued.
The woman got away and flagged down a passing car, but the occupants kept moving when Hawthorne threatened them with a gun. McCord said the vehicle stopped momentarily to pick up the woman’s two daughters, who were walking down the street in their pajamas with no shoes.
“He shot Mommy,” they told the driver. People in the car called 911.
After the car drove away, Hawthorne knocked his ex to the ground on the corner of 83rd and Luella, then continuously beat her in the head for “minutes,” McCord said. When he was done, he got up, grabbed a large rock, and dropped it on her head “numerous times.”
Chicago police arrived and arrested Hawthorne after a short foot chase. Along the way, he ditched a gun that investigators later determined was used during the crimes, McCord said.
The woman died from blunt force trauma and had a gunshot wound to her arm. Her new boyfriend was killed by a gunshot wound to the head.
McCord said the woman broke up with Hawthorne late last year. On January 3, Chicago police said they found a handgun in his glove compartment, knives, and four more firearms in the trunk, including a rifle and an AR-15. All of the guns were loaded, a prosecutor said during his bail hearing on January 5.
Judge Barbara Dawkins ordered him to pay a $7,500 bail deposit to go home on electronic monitoring in January. He posted it later that month and received permission to travel to work as a security guard while on electronic monitoring.
On Tuesday, McCord said his ankle monitor GPS tracked him from his workplace to the victims’ nearby home.
Hawthorne was given a life sentence for murder in 1983 when he was still a juvenile. But a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling barred life without parole sentences for juvenile convictions. He was resentenced to 68 years in 2016, McCord said.
Judge Kelly McCarthy ordered Hawthorne held without bail on Tuesday afternoon.
The “not horrible” series
This report continues our coverage of individuals accused of killing, shooting, or trying to kill or shoot others while on bond for a pending felony case. CWBChicago began our series of reports in November 2019 after Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans publicly stated, “we haven’t had any horrible incidents occur” under the court’s bond reform initiative.
The actual number of murders and shootings committed by people on felony bail is undoubtedly much higher than the numbers seen here. Since 2017, CPD has brought charges in less than 5% of non-fatal shootings and 33% of murders, according to the city’s data.
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