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Trial begins for man accused in shooting death of teacher

Arms locked together, Kristal Long, and J. Washington left the 26th and California courthouse after the bond hearing for Dominique Hodrick, who was charged with killing school teacher Betty Howard. Kristal Long was her niece. J. Washington was her granddaughter. | Al Podgorski / Sun-Times Media

CHICAGO — After nearly four years of legal wrangling, the trial of a man charged in the 2014 shooting death of a Chicago special education teacher is underway.

Dominique Hodrick is charged with murder in the death of 58-year-old Betty Howard. Howard was working part time at a realty company when she was shot.

In opening statements Monday, Assistant State’s Attorney Ashley Romito told jurors the 27-year-old Hodrick was in a nearby apartment building “stewing” about gang rivals on the block. He then stepped outside to fire at a car “that doesn’t belong there.” The bullets went through a wall, killing Howard.

Defense attorney Bernard Shelton said Hodrick knew of rumors that he killed the “old lady.” But Hodrick told police he had a .22-caliber gun, and a 9 mm gun killed Howard.

Hodrick also is charged in the 2012 slaying of a 17-year-old boy. He is awaiting trial on those charges.