CHICAGO (CBS) — Relatives of a trader from the southwest suburbs said Wednesday that they believe he is innocent of charges that he killed his best friend and then dumped the body in a Side Side alley last summer.

Michael Pelko, 37, of Willow Springs, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of his longtime friend Izat Morrar, whose body was found July 20, 2017, in an alley near the 5300 block of South Calumet.

Pelko waved and blew a kiss to members of his family after entering the courtroom Wednesday.

michael pelko Family Says Chicago Trader Accused Of Killing His Best Friend Is Innocent

Michael Pelko (Credit: Cook County Sheriff)

Pelko’s wife declined to comment on the charges after his appearance, but his aunt, Linda Bradshaw, said she believes he is innocent.

“This was his best friend, their kids are best friends,” Bradshaw said of Pelko’s relationship with Morrar. “He couldn’t have done it.”

Bradshaw said she was shocked when she heard the allegations. She said she thinks the case is full of holes.

“They said he killed someone with a 9 mm [handgun],” Bradshaw said. “He doesn’t even own a 9 mm.”

Morrar was shot twice in the head head at close range, Cook County prosecutors said at a Jan. 17 hearing where Pelko was denied bail.

Blood matching Morrar’s DNA was found in Pelko’s SUV, which matched a vehicle seen on video surveillance near Morrar’s South Loop apartment, and the alley where he was found dead, prosecutors said.

Pelko, who works at the Chicago Board of Trade, has two children, and coaches soccer and baseball, according to his attorney.

He is scheduled to appear in court again Feb. 13.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2018. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)