Your CTA transit card could be used against you in court

As the jurors in the Hudson family murder case meet to determine whether William Balfour is guilty of the crime, they have one small, thin piece of circumstantial evidence to consider.

Balfour’s CTA transit card.

You see, part of Balfour’s alibi is that he used his CTA card to take a train and a bus to his girl friend’s house on the morning of the murders, and was nowhere near the Hudson house.

The only problem with that alibi is that police say his seven-day transit card hadn’t recorded any CTA rides that day.

It’s just another small piece of the circumstantial case the prosecutors have tried to build to prove Balfour is the murderer. And it could play a big role in whether the jury finds him guilty.

So, the next time you’re considering committing a crime, ditch your transit card. And you especially don’t want to have a Chicago Card Plus, because your movements will have been recorded – or not – regardless of whether you ditch the card.


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  • "Ditch" is the operative word, because I found news stories that said:

    When he was arrested around 6 p.m., Balfour had a seven-day CTA fare card and his cellphone on him. [Police officers] learned during the interrogation that the fare card had not been used at all that day. Records had also shown Balfour’s phone was still pinging off a tower near the Hudson home long after he said he had boarded the train.

    The cell phone is probably the better evidence, and also indicates that the gps is tracking it, even if you aren't talking.

    Anyway, I couldn't figure out how they could track the card if he just bought it at a fare card vending machine, and normally they couldn't, except that he had it on him. Even at that, he could have said that he was riding on someone else's card, given that you can run one regular fare card through 7 times, but since he didn't take the stand, he couldn't.

    As you note, since Chicago Cards are registered, there isn't any problem tracking them. There is also probably enough video to establish if he went on any bus or through any station, although the question would be how long CTA retains it.

  • Geez, I thought everyone knew by now, if you want to kill someone, you need to use cash while doing it!

  • In reply to Espio:

    Except that if the alibi was riding rapid transit, theoretically you can't use cash, but, at a minimum, have to buy a transit card from the vending machine.

    On another CTA Tattler topic relevant here, maybe those who steal cell phones will eventually figure out that they can be tracked.

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