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Trial starts for man charged in deadly Church’s Chicken shooting

Arthur Chaney was sentenced to life in prison, plus 120 years for murder and attempted murder in a shooting at a Church's Chicken restaurant. | Cook County Sheriff's Department

Robert Givans went to his neighborhood Church’s Chicken just as he did every Tuesday for the 99 cent thigh-and-leg special.

But that night — just two days after Christmas — Givans heard gunshots as he stood in the packed Englewood restaurant with the other regulars.

“I turned, ducked. . . . I hit the ground,” Givans testified Wednesday at the opening of the trial of the reputed gang member charged with shooting him and six others.

Givans, 62, was shot twice in the leg and once in his right arm.

Others weren’t so lucky.

Dantril Brown, a 17-year-old student at Prosser Career Academy, and Jawan Ross, 16, a student at Robeson High School, were killed in the shooting on Dec. 27, 2011.

Arthur Chaney wasn’t aiming for the teenagers, Cook County prosecutors said.

But the Gangster Disciple was so “hot” to get a pair of Black Disciples, he fired at his rivals outside the Church’s Chicken and followed them as they ran inside for cover, Assistant State’s Attorney John Maher said.

Maher said Chaney “didn’t care” that he was shooting in a public place, leaving the victims “writhing in pain” as they piled up on top of each other near the back door, where they had fled in a panic.

Terry Rush, one of the men authorities believe Chaney wanted to harm, ended up with a graze wound to his right hand. The other likely target, Kenny Lofton, escaped injury when the bullets showered over him and other customers at 66th and Halsted.

Assistant Public Defender John Wilson maintained his client’s innocence in opening statements, arguing that Chaney, now 28, was wrongfully identified as the shooter.

The description of the shooter hours after the murders was a black male, in his 20s, with a dark coat and dreadlocks, Wilson said. “That could fit the description of a thousand men on the South Side of Chicago.”

Neither Givans nor two others who were wounded, Linus Haywood, 56, and Demetrius Johnson, 22, had identified Chaney.

Lofton, a convicted felon, said he initially denied he knew who shot at him. Later he told detectives it was “Little Art.”

During cross examination by Assistant Public Defender Kathleen Moriarty, 24-year-old Lofton said he only fingered Chaney after cops asked him who he had a beef with.

Lofton also said he was in a shootout with Chaney weeks before the Church’s Chicken murders.

Lofton said he and Rush were Black Disciples at the time. But Lofton said he has since left the gang.

Rush, who is behind bars for driving on a revoked license, denied that he and Lofton were ever part of the Black Disciples.

He told Maher he only identified Chaney as his shooter because detectives “pressured” and “pushed” him to.

Maher noted, while Rush was on the stand, that Rush had told the grand jury and another assistant state’s attorney that when he turned around before running into Church’s Chicken, he saw Chaney armed with a weapon.

Lofton and Rush said after the shooting, they both left the restaurant without calling an ambulance or police.

Several people sobbed and left Judge Matthew Coghlan’s courtroom Wednesday when prosecutors showed surveillance footage inside the Church’s Chicken as the shooting unfolded.

Chaney’s trial continues before Coghlan on Thursday.