CHICAGO (STMW) – The third of four men charged with beating and chasing another man on a Red Line subway platform from where he fell and was electrocuted pleaded guilty to murder Tuesday after two co-defendants were convicted on Monday.
Martell Johnson, 24, pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to 21 years in prison by Judge Joseph Kazmierski, according to Cook County State’s Attorney’s office spokeswoman Tandra Simonton.
On Monday, separate juries found Maurice Evans, 25, and Antwaun Thompson, 29, guilty of murder in the same case. They face from 20 to 60 years in prison. A fourth suspect, 32-year-old Clint Johnson, is scheduled for trial later this week.
The four men may have gotten into a scuffle with Daniel McKenzie and his companions on the train, prosecutors alleged during Evans’ and Thompson’s trials. But once they exited the car, Johnson and friends aggressively pursued McKenzie, kicking and hitting him.
“They extinguished his life,” Asst. State’s Attorney Joseph Lattanzio said in closing arguments. “They rushed him. They surrounded him, and they got him next to the railway.”
It didn’t matter if McKenzie, 43, slipped or was pushed, or even if the men never intended to kill him, prosecutors said.
All that needed to be proved was that McKenzie wouldn’t have fallen face down onto the third rail if he hadn’t been pursued by the hostile group at the Roosevelt and State stop in the early morning hours of July 27, 2008, they said.
Defense attorneys claimed that McKenzie, his brother Michael and their friend were the instigators of the fight on the northbound Red Line train. They also discredited a witness’ account that Evans was pestering McKenzie’s group by asking them what gang they were affiliated with.
Evans, in fact, was stabbed twice with a box cutter and all the men involved ended up taking off their belts in a “free for all,” Evans’ attorney Robert Loeb said.
“They [McKenzie’s group] were the aggressors. They were looking for a fight,” Thompson’s lawyer Lorne Gorelick added.
Prosecutors told jurors to focus on the aftermath of the fight, showing them the jarring surveillance video that captures the chase and McKenzie’s eventual tumble.
–Chicago Sun-Times and Sun-Times Media Wire
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2011. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)