Charges dropped against man accused of murdering 4 at South Shore restaurant

Maurice Harris, now 22, was charged in the 2017 fatal shooting four people at Nadia Fish and Chicken at 75th and Coles. The charges against Harris were dropped at a hearing Wednesday.

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Dana Jackson mourns for her sons Dillon, 20, and Raheem ,19, who were shot to death with two others at Nadia Fish and Chicken at 75th and Coles on March 30, 2017.

Dana Jackson mourns for her sons Dillon, 20, and Raheem ,19, who were shot to death with two others at Nadia Fish and Chicken at 75th and Coles on March 30, 2017.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Cook County prosecutors Wednesday dropped murder charges against a man who was accused of carrying out one of the deadliest shootings in Chicago in recent years.

Maurice Harris, now 22, was charged in April 2017 with fatally shooting four people at a restaurant in South Shore. He’d been held without bail at the Cook County Jail since his arrest three years ago.

Court records show that the charges against Harris — more than two dozen counts of murder, attempted murder and aggravated discharge of a firearm — were dropped at a hearing Wednesday.

Killings of four or more people in a single instance are relatively rare in Chicago, though the quadruple murder at Nadia Fish and Chicken occurred during a particularly violent day in South Shore that saw seven people killed in the neighborhood.

“There was a sense, I think, in the city and the CPD that things were getting really out of hand and they had to do something,” said Ian Barney, one of Harris’ attorneys. “I’m not going to second-guess what they did, because at the end of the day, they had individuals who identified our client in a photo array. But when you take a step back and you look at those identifications, they didn’t make any sense.”

Tandra Simonton, a spokeswoman for the state’s attorney’s office, also said in a statement that eyewitness accounts were not found to be reliable.

“After a thorough review, which included an additional investigation that was conducted after the charges were filed, we concluded that the totality of the evidence, including eyewitness accounts, was insufficient to meet our burden of proof and we are unable to move forward with the prosecution of this case,” Simonton said.“Today, in the interest of justice, the court granted our motion and all charges related to Harris were dismissed.”

Around 3:30 p.m. on March 30, 2017, a gunman walked into the restaurant at 75th Street and Coles Avenue and opened fire, killing Emmanuel C. Stokes, 28, and 32-year-old Edwin Davis, police said.

Dillon Jackson and Raheem Jackson, ages 20 and 19, were visiting their mother while she was working at the restaurant when the gunfire broke out. Both tried to flee but were also fatally shot in nearby parking lots.

The Jacksons’ grandmother, Georgia Jackson, told reporters that another grandson of hers, 16-year-old Jawan Ross, was shot and killed at a Church’s Chicken in Englewood in 2011.

Harris was arrested and charged less than a week after the shooting.

Police at the time said Harris carried out the shooting to avenge his father, Jerry Jacobs, who was shot and killed the day before.

Brendan Deenihan, who was then the commander of Area Central detectives and is now the CPD’s chief of detectives, said Jacobs was killed in the 7900 block of South Phillips Avenue on March 29. He was on the sidewalk when four males got out of a dark-colored van and opened fire.

“I think a reasonable motive would be that his father got killed and subsequently he shoots and kills these four people,” Deenihan said in 2017. “Does he do that randomly? Only he can answer that question. I wouldn’t suspect he just picked four random people on the street. That wouldn’t make sense to me.”

Harris__Maurice_19.jpg

Maurice Harris

Chicago police photo

Though Harris did not provide a confession, several eyewitnesses told police Harris was the only shooter, Deenihan said.

Barney said that since Harris was charged, he and other defense attorneys uncovered more and more evidence to show that Harris could not have been the shooter and that the witness identifications weren’t credible.

“We started building this case for a defense at trial and as we went further down the road, we started accumulating more and more evidence that established that, not only could we win at trial, not only was there reasonable doubt here, but we thought we could prove his innocence,” Barney said.

Since he was jailed on the murder charges, Harris was also charged with mob action and public indecency, court records show. With the murder charges dropped, Barney said he expects Harris to be released from jail “relatively soon.”

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