The federal racketeering case against 11 members of the Four Corner Hustlers — one of the biggest gang trials in Chicago history — was supposed to begin this September, but a judge said Friday it could be pushed back by as much as a year.
That was after lawyers for three of the defendants — reputed gang boss Labar “Bro Man” Spann, Tremayne Thompson and Juhwun Foster — told U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin they need more time to prepare. They noted that prosecutors haven’t said yet whether they will seek the death penalty for the three if they are convicted.
The trial had been scheduled to start Sept. 3.
“One way or the other, the death penalty-eligible defendants are not going to go to trial in September,” Durkin said, but he did not immediately set a new trial date.
A new trial date could be set Feb. 11. Durkin suggested the possibility of rescheduling the trial for September 2020. When he initially set the September 2019 trial date, he had said having the trial begin in the fall might make it easier for jurors.
The move to delay the proceedings came as the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago weighs whether they would seek the death penalty against the three. The months-long process to decide to do so would require the attorney general’s approval.
Federal prosecutors have linked Spann, Thompson and Foster to six killings between 2000 and 2003, including the shooting death of Latin Kings boss Rudy “Kato” Rangel.
Complicating when the trial will take place is that the eight other defendants are not eligible for the death penalty. Several of them are asking to split the case in two — with one trial for those who could get a death sentence if convicted and a separate trial for the others — but prosecutors oppose that.
“Nobody wants two four-month trials,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Salib, the lead prosecutor in the case, said Friday. “The evidence is going to be the same.”
The judge hasn’t ruled on that but also expressed concern about splitting the trial in two. “I don’t want to try two four-month trials with the same evidence,” Durkin said. “It’s going to be difficult to get jurors in every day for a four-month period.”