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19-Year-Old Held In Death Of Cab Driver

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Darien Marquez-Connerly (Evanston Police Department)

Darien Marquez-Connerly (Evanston Police Department)

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UPDATED 05/23/11 6:01 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS/STMW) – A 19-year-old man is being held without bail in the murder of an Evanston cab driver.

Cabbie Leodis Blackburn was shot in the head in the early morning hours of May 15 and died three days later.

Darien Lawrence Marquez Connerly of the 2000 block of W. Jarvis Ave. has been charged with first-degree murder and attempted armed robbery in the fatal shooting of Blackburn, Evanston Police Cmdr. Tom Guenther said at a press conference Monday afternoon.

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cab driver 19 Year Old Held In Death Of Cab Driver

Cab driver Leodis Blackburn (CBS)

Connerly, who was denied bond at a hearing Monday, is scheduled for a prelminiary hearing June 21 in Skokie.

Investigators said Connerly first ordered the driver to stop on the 500 block of Elmwood Avenue, where the fatal shooting occurred around 2 a.m. He may have picked that location because of a female acquaintance in the area, Guenther said.

The offender then partially exited the cab, produced a 25-caliber semiautomatic handgun, pointed it at the victim and announced his intentions to rob him, Guenther said.

At that point, the driver attempted to drive away, Guenther said, and the offender fired one shot, striking Blackburn in the head just above the left ear.

The disabled driver’s cab continued south on Elmwood, striking cars before coming to a rest. The offender, meanwhile, ran away, Guenther said.

An anonymous citizen’s tip, as well as footage recorded on both city and public cameras in the Howard Street area, helped lead to the arrest, Guenther said.

The tip implicated Connerly, and detectives following up learned he was on parole for aggravated robbery. Investigators then worked with Department of Corrections personnel, resulting in Connerly’s arrest on Saturday in the 7500 block of Ridge Avenue in Chicago.

Guenther said video surveillance footage showed Connerly entering the taxi on Howard Street just before the incident.

The killing of a cab driver was the first in Evanston since the 1980s, when a driver from Norshore was killed, also late at night, after picking up a fare at the Davis Street L station.

Deborah Hughes, a Best driver for about 11 years, said there have been a number of incidents with younger riders — “jump outs” who argue over fares or leave without paying.

“Some of these people give us an awful hard time,” she said.

Blackburn was pronounced dead of his injuries three days after the shooting at St. Francis Hospital.

Employees at the closely knit cab company “are taking it hard, especially when you’re a nice guy,” said Sharon McKinley, whose family owns the company.

Blackburn had been working for the company about 10 years, she said. He had returned to driving on the street barely a week after serving a stint as a dispatcher.

The state’s attorney says Connerly was on parole for a 2009 aggravated robbery conviction.

Authorities say they have recovered what they believe to be the murder weapon, and they say Connerly has admitted to the murder.

© Sun-Times Media Wire & WBBM contributed to this report. All rights reserved.

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