First of 2 Four Corner Hustlers gang trials now down to one defendant after a series of guilty pleas
Keith Chatman pleaded guilty Tuesday, as co-defendants Marchello Devine, Deandre Spann and Rontrell Turnipseed had in recent weeks. Stevon Sims still plans to go to trial next month, his lawyer says.
A rush of guilty pleas has dramatically reduced the highly anticipated Four Corner Hustlers street gang trial to just one remaining defendant.
And that’s providing that the charges against Stevon Sims aren’t resolved before the racketeering conspiracy trial’s scheduled Sept. 17 start.
Keith Chatman pleaded guilty Tuesday, and other co-defendants Marchello Devine, Deandre Spann and Rontrell Turnipseed also pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy in recent weeks.
Security concerns have surrounded the case, for which prosecutors have asked be heard by jurors who remain anonymous.
Even after this part of the case is resolved, three reputed Four Corner Hustlers gang members who could face the death penalty if convicted still face trial next year: gang boss Labar “Bro Man” Spann, Tremayne Thompson and Juhwun Foster.
An indictment linked the gang to six killings between 2000 and 2003, and prosecutors since have tied it to three more, all in 2012.
In his plea deal, Chatman admitted possessing or distributing 4.6 grams of heroin in 2009, 2012 and 2013 and 1.6 grams of cocaine and 5.1 grams of marijuana in 2009.
The document also notes he disputes an involvement in a double killing and attempted murder in 2012 and another attempted murder in 2008.
Federal authorities had linked Chatman to the shootings in a 110-page document filed last month.
Though they weren’t identified by prosecutors, other records indicate the circumstances fit the killings of Cornell Ferguson and Johnqualus Turner, both 16, gunned down Aug. 2, 2012, in the 600 block of North Avers Avenue.
Prosecutors have said the double murder followed the Aug. 1, 2012, killing of Dominique “Snoopy” Green, described as a Four Corner Hustlers associate.
Chatman told authorities he cried for two days after that death, according to court records that say Green was shot 11 times, in the head and elsewhere.
The double-murder happened the next day. Prosecutors say a van carrying Labar Spann and two others blocked traffic while Chatman and fellow gang member Justin Cook fired shots from inside a Nissan sedan, with Chatman firing an “AK-47-style assault weapon” from the rear seats.
A third victim, shot in a leg, survived, records show.
In the 2008 attempted murder tied to Chatman, the victim had testified against a a member of the gang who was on trial for armed robbery. Two months later, while the victim was driving near Jackson Boulevard and Homan Avenue with a friend in the victim’s Buick Regal, a Nissan Altima pulled alongside, and someone in the Nissan started shooting, according to court records.
The victim’s friend drove him to a hospital, records show. The victim was shot twices in the back and suffered a collapsed lung, according to Chatman’s plea agreement.
The victim signed a “refusal to prosecute” form. But, nearly 10 years later, prosecutors say the victim was warned, “Lil Keith is gonna get down on you.”
Chatman denied taking part in those shootings, according to his plea deal.
Chatman also has been connected to the fatal shooting of his friend Raven Lemons, 25, who was killed at a downtown beach early on June 18, 2017. Police said there was a fight, someone fired a shot, and Chatman fired back, shooting Lemons in the head.
Cook County prosecutors charged Chatman with aggravated discharge of a firearm and being an armed habitual criminal “after being positively identified as the individual that shot and killed Raven Lemons,” according to police. Those charges were dropped in January 2018.
Chatman faces sentencing in November with Devine, Turnipseed and Deandre Spann.
Sims’ lawyer Joseph Lopez said Wednesday that Sims plans to go to trial.
Sims pleaded guilty in August 2016 in a separate, federal drug case and got a 69-month prison sentence. According to police records, he was selling drugs in the 3900 block of West Lexington Street for Labar Spann.