A 25-year-old Chicago man was found guilty of first-degree murder at a trial on Monday for causing a man to fall to his death on the high voltage third rail of the CTA red line.
Maurice Evans, who may face up to 60 years in prison, was charged for the murder of Daniel McKenzie, who was electrocuted at the Roosevelt stop on July 27, 2008.
The trial was held at Cook County criminal court by a 12-member jury.
Evans and three other men were convicted of committing mob action, a felony in which more than one person disturbs the public peace by force or violence. The others being tried separately were Antwaun Thompson,29, Martell Johnson,24, and Clint Johnson,32,– all of Chicago.
“It was some sort of grotesque ballet,” said state’s attorney Jaime Voigt, describing the fight on the “L” platform.
Voigt and her partner, Kim Ward, showed a video of the men stomping and beating McKenzie and cornering him to the edge of the platform.
“Daniel McKenzie didn’t stand a chance,” Voigt said. “This is sort of a no-brainer. There is nothing lawful about chasing down an unarmed man and beating him.”
The fight started on a northbound train when Evans got in McKenzie’s face and asked him what gang he belonged to, according to an eyewitness. When he received no answer, Evans pointed a finger in McKenzie’s face and McKenzie slapped it out of the way, resulting Evans throwing the first punch.
The fight continued onto the Roosevelt platform, where the four men pulled out their belts and used them as weapons. McKenzie’s brother, Michael McKenzie, and his friend fled the scene after stabbing Evans with a box cutter.
Daniel McKenzie was left behind, trapped in all directions by the four men.
“They acted as a wall or barrier,” said Voigt. “The only place Daniel McKenzie could go was toward the edge of the platform.”
According to Voigt, it didn’t matter if McKenzie was pushed, fell, or jumped off the platform–the four men need to be held responsible for their actions.
“If the death happened during mob action, it is murder,” said Voigt.
Robert Loeb, Evans’ attorney, said the incident was “an unplanned tragedy and an unintentional tragedy.”
Loeb said Evans checked to see if McKenzie was okay, unlike Michael McKenzie, who bolted up the stairs and didn’t come back.
“Michael McKenzie didn’t go to police. He didn’t go that night or the next day. He didn’t go the next week,” Loeb said.
Since Evans was stabbed twice by Michael McKenzie’s friend with a box cutter, Loeb said Evans’ acts were justified as defense.
“Does the evidence constitute an act of murder?” Loeb asked the jury. Loeb said that Evans should not be charged with murder.
Loeb also said that one of the witnesses who testified had a felony on his record for unlawful use of a weapon.
Antwaun Thompson was also found guilty of first-degree murder during a separate trial on Monday, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Thompson could also face up to 60 years in prison.
Martell Johnson, another accomplice in the murder, pleaded guilty to murder on Tuesday. Judge Joseph Kazmierski sentenced Johnson to 21 years in prison, according to Tandra Simonton, a spokeswoman for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office.