After Timothy Herring allegedly shot Chicago Police Officer Michael Flisk and retired CHA officer Stephen Peters once each in the face, he detected a slight movement in one of his victims and returned to finish the job, a Cook County jury heard in Herring’s double-murder trial Monday.
“He shoots each man one time in the head as they lay on the ground — execution-style, cold-blooded murder,” Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Thomas Mahoney told jurors in his opening statement at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse.
Herring, then a 19-year-old parolee, is charged with murder and burglary in the Nov. 26, 2010, killings of Flisk and Peters in an alley in the 8100 block of South Burnham Avenue.
Prosecutors say Herring, who was on parole at the time for a 2007 armed robbery conviction, opened fire when he returned to the scene of the Southeast Side burglary he had committed hours earlier and heard Flisk, an evidence technician, say, “I’ve got a good fingerprint.”
Flisk was there to investigate the burglary of several car parts stolen from Peters’ prized red Ford Mustang Cobra, which the ex-CHA officer had kept in his mother’s garage. Herring was passing by the scene of his crime to pick up the stolen parts, which he had stored in nearby garbage cans, prosecutors say.
After the shootings, Mahoney said, Herring visited two female friends, Tranay Smith and Diamond Owens. He was acting nervous and “tweaking,” Mahoney said. At one point, Herring told Smith and Owens, “ ‘I just killed two people,’ ” Mahoney said.
Not long after the shootings, and shortly after smoking weed, Herring went over to Smith’s home in the South Chicago neighborhood and cut off his dreadlocks, Smith testified Monday. He then removed a gun from his waist, hid it in a box of Huggy’s diapers and stashed the box in a closet, said Smith, 27.
Herring later put his hair clippings, the gun and his coat — which she said had wires protruding from it — in a bag.
“He said someone was going to come get it,” Smith said. “He said, ‘Don’t say nothing.’”
Later that night, one of Herring’s friends stopped by to pick up the bag, Smith said.
Herring’s attorney, Julie Koehler, pointed out to jurors that Smith has a pending aggravated assault case in the Cook County Court system that could send her to prison for seven years. She asked Smith if she got anything in exchange for her testimony.
Smith said she did not.
When she was first questioned by detectives, Smith lied about the incident. She testified Monday she did so because she was scared.
“You lie when your afraid?” Koehler asked.
“Yes,” Smith responded.
“You’re afraid right now, aren’t you?” Koehler asked.
“Yes,” Smith said again.
In a fiery opening statement, Koehler said prosecutors have no substantial physical evidence linking Herring to the crime, and witnesses for the prosecution were either motivated by the promise of a $20,000 reward or were saving themselves from an obstruction of justice charge.
“Twenty thousand dollars can get a lot of people thinking,” Koehler said.
Prosecutors expect to call as many as 40 witnesses during the trial.
The first to testify Monday was Flisk’s widow, Nora Flisk, who described arriving at Northwestern Memorial Hospital the day her husband was shot.
“I was greeted by the Chicago Police Department,” she said. “They notified me that Michael had been killed.”
Laura Peters, Stephen Peters’ mother, testified that she was at home when her son was shot in the alley behind her home.
Peters recalled her son coming into the house and telling her someone had broken into her garage and yanked parts from his beloved Mustang.
Her son was waiting outside for the police to arrive when she heard two gunshots a few minutes later, she said.
“I jumped up and ran to the back window and looked out,” Peters said. “I saw Stephen lying on the ground.”
Prosecutors then played a recording of Laura Peters’ 911 call in which jurors heard her sobbing and crying for help.
Flisk, a father of four, was found wearing his service weapon. Peters, a former police officer with the Chicago Housing Authority, also had a gun on him.
Neither fired a shot.