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Thaddeus “T.J.” Jimenez is caught on a cellphone video on Aug. 17, 2015, on the Northwest Side. Shortly after, the video caught Jimenez shooting a man in the legs. He’s been sentenced to nine years in prison on a federal gun conviction in the case and sti
Thaddeus “T.J.” Jimenez is caught on a cellphone video on Aug. 17, 2015, on the Northwest Side.
Sun-Times/Federal court files

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‘Motive,’ episode 1: A shooting from a Mercedes

Meet Thaddeus “T.J.” Jimenez, a Chicago man who spent 16 years in prison for a murder he swore he didn’t commit. With $25 million from a wrongful-conviction lawsuit, T.J. bought a gang. “Motive” is his story.

T.J. was released from prison in 2009, but his freedom didn’t last very long. In 2017, he was sentenced to prison again. T.J. was captured in a video driving a Mercedes convertible, blasting Ave Maria on the stereo, and shooting a man in the legs. Why would he do that? We begin our story outside the federal jail in downtown Chicago.

Listen to “Motive” wherever you get your podcasts, including Apple Podcasts, Pocket Casts, Spotify and Stitcher.

Motive extra features

Get a look at the real-life people and places covered in this episode of “Motive.” Meet T.J., his mother Victoria and the family members, friends and lawyers who tell his story.

Jailhouse strip shows

In 2016, Maria Cardona lived near the Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Chicago. One evening, she witnessed a strip show happening on the top floor of a self-parking garage, and she videotaped it. Notice the lights on the jail flickering in appreciation.

Metropolitan Correctional Center

This is where Briana Fitzgibbons saw nude dancing and sex acts take place — on the top floor of a self-park garage across from the Metropolitan Correctional Center. | Rich Hein / Sun-Times
Metropolitan Correctional Center
Rich Hein/Sun-Times

The view from the top of a self-parking garage across the street from the Metropolitan Correctional Center. The windows were spaced randomly to make the building blend in with the surrounding city.

T.J.’s black Lamborghini

2007 Lamborghini Murcielago Coupe in downtown Chicago
T.J.’s 2007 Lamborghini Murcielago Coupe
Frank Main/Sun-Times

A Lamborghini Murcielago Coupe was just one of the expensive cars T.J. bought after he won $25 million in his wrongful-conviction lawsuit. But T.J. wasn’t just buying flashy cars for himself. He shared them with kids — 15- and 16-year-olds he recruited from other gangs.

T.J. just before the shooting

Thaddeus “T.J.” Jimenez is caught on a cellphone video shooting Earl Casteel in the legs on Aug. 17, 2015 in Irving Park on the Northwest Side. Jimenez was arrested minutes lat
Photo still from the cellphone video of T.J. shooting Earl Casteel

T.J. and his friend pull up to Earl Casteel. With no provocation, T.J. shoots Earl in the legs. His friend caught the whole thing on his cellphone.

Who’s who in ‘Motive’

Victoria Jimenez, mother of Thaddeus ‘T.J.’ Jimenez. Frank Main / Sun-Times

Meet the key players in this podcast, from T.J. and Vicky to Jon Loevy and Larry Tueffel.


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