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No bond for suspect who moved to Florida after being questioned in 2017 murder

Sun-Times file photo

A suspect in a 2017 Chicago murder was taken into custody in Florida this week – nearly a year after Cook County prosecutors said he gunned down a 33-year-old man in an Austin alley.

James Pope, 34 was arrested last year for the Feb. 11, 2017 shooting of Taurins Pope but was released, Assistant Public Defender Jennifer Hodel said Thursday during a bond hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse.

But James Pope didn’t stick around long. Word had gotten out that he was a suspect in Taurins Pope’s killing, and someone shot at him. He then moved to Tampa Bay to live with his sister, according to authorities.

The Popes are unrelated.

James Pope told police and he and Taurins Pope drove to the alley in the 100 block of North Menard Avenue around 7 a.m., and drank together until he received a phone call for a drug deal. So James Pope said he left without Taurins Pope, Assistant State’s Attorney Jason Coelho said.

But Coelho said surveillance video showed James Pope arriving in the alleyway with Taurins Pope in his car, and pulling alongside unnamed individuals in a black BMW. After a conversation with the people in the BMW, James Pope walked behind Taurins Pope and shot him in the back, Coelho said. Taurins Pope fell to the ground, and James Pope stood over him and shot him twice more, Coelho said.

A witness heard the gunshots and saw James Pope standing over Taurins Pope, then watched James Pope get back in his car and drive off.

Police traced the temporary license tags on James Pope’s car to locate his address, and found the car parked a few blocks away from his house, Coelho said.

James Pope came out of his home and asked police about his car, and was taken into custody. Testing on his clothing showed gunpowder residue on his pant leg, and a shell casing found near James Pope’s car matched casings from shells found near the murder scene, Coelho said.

A warrant was issued for James Pope in October 2017, court records indicate.

James Pope was taken into custody in Florida on a warrant for first-degree murder and extradited back to Chicago.

Judge Stephanie Miller ordered him held without bond.