Reporting Bernie Tafoya
UPDATED 12/01/10 4:23 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) - A suspect has been ordered held without bond Wednesday in the murder of a mother and her two daughters in the South Side’s Morgan Park neighborhood.
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Denzel Pittman, 18, of the 100 block of Westwood Drive in Park Forest, was charged with three counts of first-degree murder, according to police News Affairs. A judge denied bond for Pittman in Violence Court (Br. 66) Wednesday.
Pittman is charged in the stabbing deaths of Stacy Cochran-Hill, 43, and her two daughters: Joi Cochran, 11, and Jade Hannah, 17.
Police say Pittman was Jade Hannah’s boyfriend.
Denzel Pittman’s family did show up in court Wednesday, but refused to speak to the media. The family of the three murder victims did speak out – and showed compassion for the suspect.
“It’s just a tragic situation. Not just for our family, but for his family too,” said Augustus McGill, uncle of Stacy Cochran-Hill. “When your kid is born, we raise our kids to be doctors and lawyers, but he just went the wrong way. The courts will take care of the situation and we give it to God.”
Prosecutors say Denzel Pittman and Jade Hannah had an ongoing dating relationship. They got into an argument. They were on the stairs leading up to the third floor apartment Hannah shared with her mother and sister.
The argument became physical. Prosecutors say Pittman started beating and strangling Hannah, then stabbed her at least 11 times in her neck, shoulder and chest.
As she cried out for help, her mother, Stacy Cochran-Hill, came to the door of the apartment. Prosecutors say that’s when Pittman turned his weapon on Cochran-Hill, stabbing her about 15 times in her head, chest, arms and hands.
Joi, 11, was heard screaming during the attack on her mother. Soon after, prosecutors say Pittman entered the apartment and stabbed the child in her chest and head.
“He didn’t have to hurt that baby because that baby didn’t do nothing to nobody,” McGill said. “You’re gonna get caught anyway. You could have let that baby be.”
Prosecutors say witnesses identified Pittman as the person seen walking past his girlfriend lying on the apartment landing. His clothes and hands were covered in blood.
Witnesses saw Pittman leaving the scene and gave responding officers a detailed description. That description was broadcast over the police radio, and officers from the Targeted Response Unit found Pittman walking in the 2300 block of West 112th Street.
Pittman immediately ran from the officers after spotting them, but the officers chased him, police said. Officers called for assistance and responding Morgan Park District Tactical officers apprehended Pittman near Western Avenue and 112th Place.
Police found the murder weapon still inside the apartment.
“God is going to pull us through this because we are strong,” McGill said.
Stacy was a hospital patient intake specialist.
“Stacy, she liked to work. She worked at the University of Chicago. She was a fun person. She liked to dance, she liked to skate. She was a nice person,” said Stacy’s mother, Sharon Ramey.
Jade, 17, loved sports and dancing. Her grandmother says the Morgan Park High School senior also had a flair for fashion.
“She liked to dress, loved clothes. She had a different hairdo every week,” Ramey said.
Joi, 11, was a sixth grader at Roseland Christian School.
“She was on the honor roll in school,” said Ramey. “She sang in the school choir and she was a praise dancer.”
According to the bond court proffer, Denzel Pittman’s record includes a juvenile arrest for theft and a juvenile arrest for domestic battery in which Jade Hannah was the victim, back in March. In that case, Pittman and Hannah had gotten into a verbal argument which turned physical when he pushed and slapped her.
In June, Pittman was arrested for aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, an adult felony. The case is pending.
CBS 2′s Suzanne Le Mignot and the Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.