Arresting Tales

When the jury comes in...

This is a picture of 23 year old Jorge Pena, gang member and convicted murderer.  I'll get to
Pena mugshot.jpg

Jorge Pena

 him in a minute.

In 2006, 467 people were murdered in the City of Chicago.  One of those victims was a man named Mark Evans, known as "Atwood" to his friends, and another was a 15 year old Sudanese immigrant named Khalif Muhammad.  Evans was killed in June, Muhammad a few weeks later.  As of this writing I could not find a mention of either murder, the arrest, or the trial in any local newspaper.

Every murder victim leaves a hole in the lives of the people who loved them.  Mark Evans left a tight-knit group of friends and family who have closely followed the entire investigation and trial.  Several of them created a scholarship fund in his memory at Eastern Illinois University.  The family of Khalif Muhammad are devastated that they brought their child here, away from the violence of the civil war in Sudan, only to have him die violently in a Chicago alley.

Mark Evans was a good friend of my friend Brian, which is how I learned about this case.

Here is the short version:

Mark Evans was murdered by Jorge Pena, 20 years old at the time, in a botched robbery.  15 year old Khalif Muhammad was an accomplice to Jorge Pena in the robbery.  Khalif's family lived in the same building, and Mark had befriended them, which is how Khalif and Pena targeted him.  Pena then killed Khalif when it looked like Khalif might start talking.  The Chicago Police Department did an excellent job of investigating, and Pena was arrested and charged in both killings.  On Monday, July 6, Jorge Pena was found guilty of the murder of Khalif Muhammad.  He is still awaiting trial in the murder of Mark Evans.

The reason I sat down to write this post was that I read an account by one of Mark's friends, writer/artist Tim Broderick, describing the return of the jury with a verdict. I thought it captured the anxiety and anticipation very well, and the exhaustion that arrives with the verdict.  According to Tim, several of the detectives who worked the case stayed and waited for the verdict. I remember doing that a couple of times, and it's always a nerve-wracking experience.  For us, the cops, we at least have the satisfaction of winning, of knowing that we did our jobs well and successfully.  The family and friends of the victim don't have that satisfaction.  Here's how he closes his post:

Afterwards, there's not what I would call relief. Because nothing good happened here. Your body calms down, you contact friends and family. They contact you. It's hard to figure out what to say, except that a very big thing finally happened. After three years, you know that a murderer is off the streets.
"Because nothing good happened here."  That sums it up.  A good man murdered, a 15 year old accomplice killed because he cracked under the pressure of having contributed to another's death, and a 20 year old gang member locked up for finally reaching the logical end of the path he started down as a young teenager.  



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1 Comment

Skylers Dad said:


I wish that I had something worthwhile to say, but all I can think of is thanks again for what you do and for being one of the good guys.

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