A former Cook County Jail inmate testified Friday that a Park Forest man he was housed with briefly admitted to him how he “lost it” when he was told his girlfriend was cheating on him and fatally stabbed her, her younger sister and mother with his pocket knife.
The inmate, Thomas Johnson, said Denzel Pittman didn’t feel remorse about killing 17-year-old Jade Hannah after he confronted her about dining at the Rock’n’ Roll McDonald’s with another suitor, because if “he couldn’t have her, no one could.”
“I loved her to death, and now she knows,” Pittman allegedly boasted during his jailhouse chats with Johnson days after the Nov. 29, 2010, triple murder in the Morgan Park neighborhood.
Pittman “didn’t care” about mutilating Jada’s mother because he believed she didn’t want her older daughter hanging out with him, Johnson testified at the 22-year-old Pittman’s bench trial.
Pittman, however, said he felt bad about killing the “little girl” and justified that he had to get rid of 11-year-old Joi Cochran because she’d be able to identify him, Johnson told Assistant State’s Attorney Mercedes Luque-Rosales.
Johnson said he met Pittman on Dec. 7, 2010, when he was placed in segregation for refusing to go back into his cell because his television was not working properly.
Initially, Pittman said he was placed behind bars for a shooting.
But soon, he started spilling details about the murders at the victims’ apartment complex in the 11100 block of South Bell Avenue, Johnson said.
“I have no reason to lie,” the felon said.
Johnson, who had been in trouble with the law since he was at least 18, said he started giving Pittman tips on how to beat his case.
Pittman allegedly claimed that 43-year-old Stacy Cochran-Hill was armed with a knife when she rushed to help her teenage daughter and told Johnson perhaps he could be set free if he argued self-defense.
“He said he would try to say that they jumped him,” Johnson said.
But after Pittman showed Johnson a minor cut on his hand and confessed that a neighbor may have caught him in the deadly act, Johnson convinced him his “best bet” was to plead insanity.
Johnson said during their few days together, he and Pittman held mock trials in their cell, with Johnson taking the role of a prosecutor.
Johnson, a former drug addict, said at the time he was in jail with Pittman, he had eight pending felony cases against him, involving retail theft, aggravated robbery, vehicular hijacking and aggravated vehicular hijacking charges.
Defense attorney Tod Urban tried to undermine Johnson’s credibility by getting him to reiterate how he faked being crazy while in jail and admit that he once carjacked a man at knife-point while he was with his girlfriend and newborn daughter.
Pittman’s trial will resume before Judge Timothy Joyce on March 16.