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Man charged in fatal Rogers Park stabbing of 75-year-old

Cash Johnson was ordered held without bail for Nanda Bhattarai’s murder.

Cash Johnson was charged with fatally stabbing a 75-year-old man March 19 in Rogers Park on the North Side.
Cash Johnson was charged with fatally stabbing a 75-year-old man March 19 in Rogers Park on the North Side.

A 26-year-old Rogers Park man admitted he stabbed a senior citizen several times in the gangway of a building in the North Side neighborhood, Cook County prosecutors said Tuesday.

Nanda Bhattarai died at St. Francis Hospital in Evanston on March 31 — 12 days after he was attacked in the 1600 block of West Morse Avenue.

Cash Johnson initially told detectives that he and Bhattarai had been chased into an alley by two people who pulled out a knife to rob Bhattarai, prosecutors said.

But after investigators confronted Johnson with surveillance video that captured moments before and after the stabbing, Johnson said that Bhattarai had pulled a knife on him, prosecutors said.

Johnson allegedly said that he was able to grab the weapon from the 75-year-old before he stabbed the older man.

But then during the video-taped interrogation, Johnson changed his story again, saying that he called Bhattarai into the gangway because he thought Bhattarai wanted to purchase marijuana from him, prosecutors said.

While the stabbing was not captured on surveillance cameras, security camera footage shows Johnson running away from the gangway shortly after both men entered it, prosecutors said.

Bhattarai can be seen walking out of the gangway about a minute later “holding his stomach and noticeably bleeding,” prosecutors said. Bhattarai was able to walk to his home about two block away, where he called 911.

Police initially said Johnson was one of three men who stabbed Bhattarai during an attempted robbery, but prosecutors made no mention of additional suspects during Johnson’s bond hearing Tuesday.

Before he stabbed Bhattarai, Johnson was also caught on surveillance cameras at the McDonald’s, at 6740 N. Clark, where he purchased food on a debit or credit card, prosecutors said.

Investigators pieced together all surveillance footage to locate Johnson’s residence where he was arrested Monday. Clothing Johnson was seen wearing on surveillance video was taken from his home as evidence, prosecutors said.

Johnson has previously been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia and receives social security payments, an assistant public defender told Judge Susana Ortiz.

The defense attorney also noted that Johnson had never been previously charged with a violent crime.

Ortiz ordered Johnson held without bail for Bhattarai’s murder

Johnson is expected back in court May 3.

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