Illinois murder suspect charged with misdemeanors for possessing stolen guns

AP Photo/Teresa Crawford

On Thursday night, Fox News host Tucker Carlson took Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot to task for her failure to get tough on Chicago’s criminals, but to be fair, there are others who deserve their share of the blame as well. Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx would be at the top of my list, given some of her office’s inexplicable decisions when it comes to those accused of violent crimes.

The latest “WTF?” moment involves a 28-year old named Torrey Lewis, who’s currently facing 160 counts of murder and other charges in the robbery and shooting death of a man in 2017. It’s unclear why a grand jury charged Lewis with so many counts of murder given that he is accused of one death, but that same jury also charged him with nine counts of armed robbery and more than a dozen attempted carjacking charges for the same crime.

Despite those serious charges, Lewis was allowed to bond out of the Cook County jail as long as he was on electronic monitoring. Earlier this week, however, police charged the murder suspect with more crimes after investigating an alleged domestic disturbance.

On Monday, prosecutors charged Lewis with two misdemeanor gun violations after sheriff’s officers allegedly found a stolen rifle and a stolen handgun in his home.

Authorities went to his house after Oak Forest police notified the sheriff that Lewis “was involved in a domestic incident which also involved a firearm,” Assistant State’s Attorney Zebulon Black said.

Sheriff’s officers searched Lewis’ home and located a rifle and handgun, both of which were stolen, according to Black.

Judge Barbara Dawkins, who was a Cook County prosecutor for nearly 20 years before becoming an associate judge in September, said the search “is part of the agreement that this defendant underwent when he went on EM.”

As CWB Chicago reports, Dawkins had some serious questions about why Lewis was only charged with misdemeanor offenses, given the options available to prosecutors in Foxx’s office.

“It looks like there are any number of charges that the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office could have charged this defendant with, the domestic, the stolen handgun, the stolen guns,” Dawkins said. “There are any number of charges that could have been placed against this defendant. They chose to charge him with misdemeanor offenses, so here we are in misdemeanor bond court as opposed to felony bond court.”

What’s going on? Well, Foxx’s office is passing the buck on to the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, saying that the law enforcement agency filed the misdemeanor charges without talking to the State Attorney. The sheriff’s office, for its part, says felon charges are “pending further investigation.”

Lewis, meanwhile, won’t be getting out of jail anytime soon. Dawkins rescinded his bond on the murder charges, and set bond at $100,000 for the misdemeanor gun charges.

This story contains so many elements of Chicago’s dysfunctional criminal justice system; the reduced charges filed against a murder suspect, the fact that a murder suspect was out on electronic monitoring, the lengthy delays in bringing that murder case to trial (Lewis was charged about three and a half years ago), and the blame-shifting on the part of government agencies and public officials, none of them willing to admit or acknowledge any mistakes on their part.

Sadly, this current state of affairs can’t be fixed simply voting Lori Lightfoot out of office. A complete change in leadership in Chicago is needed; from the mayor to the State’s Attorney to the chief of police (not to mention a plethora of alderman on the Chicago City Council). It’s going to take defeating the entrenched Democratic machine to really turn Chicago around, and that’s likely too tall an order even in a red wave year like this one.