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No bail for man charged with murder in Brighton Park hammer assault

Leighton Criminal Courthouse at 26th Street and California Avenue. | Supplied photo

A 34-year-old man charged with beating another man to death with a hammer in the Brighton Park neighborhood was denied bail Wednesday during a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse.

Julio Hernandez is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 40-year-old Carmelo Gallegos, who was found with “his head bashed in” early Monday at a home where Hernandez was living in the 3100 block of West 40th Street, according to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s and Medical Examiner’s offices.

Chicago Police officers arrived shortly before 1 a.m. and were met in front of the home by Hernandez and three other people, according to police and Assistant State’s Attorney Ben Williams. At the rear of the home, an officer found a blood trail leading from the back door to the driveway and found Gallegos face down in a pool of blood by the back stairs. A bloody hammer was found nearby.

Hernandez had blood on his hands and clothes and told police through a translator that he had struck Gallegos multiple times with the hammer during a struggle, Williams said. Hernandez was taken into custody and Gallegos was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

An autopsy performed by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office determined Gallegos suffered his injuries during an assault and his death was ruled a homicide, authorities said.

Julio Hernandez | Chicago Police
Julio Hernandez | Chicago Police

Hernandez had been staying at the home while performing rehab work, Williams said. He and Gallegos had been in a “casual dating relationship” for about six months and had spent Sunday evening eating and drinking together. Gallegos left the home later that night.

About midnight Monday, Hernandez and another person went to Gallegos’ home in the same block to accuse him of stealing a cell phone, according to Williams and police records. A resident at the home told Hernandez that Gallegos was not there and Hernandez left.

About 50 minutes later, Hernandez showed up at another nearby home and told one of the residents he had done “something bad,” police and prosecutors said. The witness woke up two others in the home and they went across the street together, found Gallegos at the bottom of the stairs and called police.

At his bail hearing Wednesday, Hernandez asked a court translator to inquire why his attorney was not present to answer his questions. Judge David Navarro informed him he was being represented by the Cook County Public Defender’s Office.

Hernandez, who is a Mexican citizen, was asked if he wanted the consulate notified of his arrest and replied, “Yes.”

Hernandez’s public defender said he had lived in the United States for 15 years and had three children who were U.S. citizens. She reminded Navarro that prosecutors had said the assault occurred during a struggle and added: “That’s all I’m going to say about that.”

Judge Navarro ordered Hernandez held without bail. His next court date was scheduled for July 9.