CHICAGO — Prosecutors this week charged a Chicago man with first-degree murder for what, according to the allegations, appears to be a hit-for-hire that claimed the life of a 34-year-old man in May.
Darius Jackson, 33, was held without bail on Friday by Judge Barbara Dawkins.
Jackson was on felony bail for a pending case of attempting to disarm a police officer at the time of the alleged murder. He’s the 15th person accused of shooting, killing, or trying to shoot or kill someone in Chicago this year while awaiting trial for a felony. The cases involve at least 21 victims, eight of whom died.
Just over a year ago, Chicago police officers pulled Jackson over while surveilling him in connection with a shooting investigation. He was never charged with that shooting, but cops who stopped his car on June 8, 2022, claimed they saw a loaded handgun between his legs as he sat in the driver’s seat.
Prosecutors charged him with armed habitual criminal and unlawful use of a weapon by a felon. But as early as his initial bail hearing, Jackson’s defense lawyer disputed the allegations, claiming that the gun was actually under the driver’s seat and the car didn’t belong to Jackson.
The state dropped the case in January. Before they did, though, prosecutors charged Jackson in October with trying to disarm a police officer in south suburban Dixmoor, aggravated battery of a peace officer and reckless driving. He is still awaiting trial on those charges.
Code word ‘Goodmorning’
Around 6:30 a.m. on May 11, youth football coach Jermone Baker was preparing to take his daughter to school. Outside his home in the 700 block of East 38th Place, someone walked up and fired at least 14 rounds, striking Backer six times. On Friday, prosecutors said the gunman was Darius Jackson.
Using license plate readers and Chicago police surveillance cameras, detectives determined that the gunman fled in a red Dodge Charger registered to Jackson, prosecutors Anne McCord Rodgers said Friday.
Cops tried to pull the car over the next day, but the driver sped off as officers approached the vehicle. But a CPD helicopter crew continued to follow the Charger from above and watched as the driver got out and dropped an object in a vacant lot before getting back into the car and driving away again, Rodgers said.
The discarded object turned out to be a .45-caliber handgun that, according to lab tests, is the weapon that ejected all of the shell casings found at the murder scene. According to Rodgers, an officer who tried to pull the Charger over identified Jackson as the driver.
She said Chicago police seized the Charger on May 23, one day after Jackson bailed out of the car after fleeing from Hammond, Indiana, police.
Detectives executed a search warrant on an iCloud account associated with a phone they found in the car. The account contained pictures of Jackson with the Charger and screenshots of three Facebook posts about Baker’s murder, Rodgers alleged.
Messages found on the iCloud include discussions between Jackson and another person about the planning and commission of Baker’s murder, Rodgers said. The other person gave Jackson Baker’s address, the timeframe during which they wanted Baker killed, and the kind of car Baker drove.
The other person instructed Jackson to text them the word “Goodmorning” when the murder was complete.
Mere seconds after the murder was committed, Jackson texted “Goodmorning” to the unknown person, Rodgers said.
Jackson’s criminal background includes unlawful use of a weapon by a felon in 2011 and carjacking in 2008.
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.