Man charged with murder in Christmas Eve shooting in Chicago Lawn

Two people witnessed the shooting in the 7200 block of South Francisco Avenue but never went to the police, according to prosecutors.

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Leighton Criminal Courthouse

Leighton Criminal Courthouse

Sun-Times file

Charges have been filed in a deadly Christmas Eve shooting last year in Chicago Lawn that was apparently witnessed by two people who never went to the police.

Bernard Washington, 43, was charged with first-degree murder in the shooting of Lakwaon Smith after the murder weapon was found in Washington’s possession during a traffic stop earlier this year, Cook County prosecutors said in court Wednesday.

Smith, 40, was found dead of a single gunshot wound to the back of his head by a neighbor in the doorway of a home in the 7200 block of South Francisco Avenue, prosecutors said. A single 9mm shell casing was recovered at the scene, prosecutors said.

Video surveillance showed Washington repeatedly going to and from the home on the day of the killing, prosecutors said, and photos on Smith’s cell phone showed Washington watching a football game with other people at the home that day.

Washington was stopped on April 18 while driving on a license that was suspended in a pending DUI case out of Winnebago County. He told officers that he had a gun, prosecutors said.

Washington, a convicted felon for weapons offenses dating back to the 1990s, was charged with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon and the gun was sent to the Illinois State Police crime lab for testing.

The semi-automatic handgun was determined to match the shell casing found at Smith’s murder, prosecutors said.

Two other people who were at the home at the time of the shooting. While they did not report the attack at the time, they identified Washington as the gunman after they were located by police, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said Washington and Smith had a history of disagreements but did not provide more information during the hearing or suggest a possible motive for the shooting.

Washington was arrested for the murder on Monday, court records show.

An assistant public defender argued that prosecutors lacked evidence that proved Washington pulled the trigger, and noted the alleged witnesses to the shooting had not come forward until they were reached by police.

Judge Mary Marubio ordered Washington held without bail. He was due back in court Aug. 16.

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