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Domestic abuse incident led to vehicular death: prosecutors

A far South Side man punched his wife as she drove a car and yanked the steering wheel, causing her to strike and kill a pedestrian over the weekend, Cook County prosecutors said.

Jason Rayford allegedly began arguing with one of two passengers who were seated in the back of the Chevy Impala as his wife made her way southbound on Western Avenue at 53rd Street early Sunday morning.

When his wife tried to intervene, Rayford, who was the front seat passenger, started punching her with a closed fist, Assistant State’s Attorney Lashunda Cooperwood said at his bond hearing Tuesday.

Trying to deflect her 30-year-old husband’s punches, the woman raised one arm over her head while keeping her other hand on the steering wheel, Cooperwood said.

But Rayford allegedly grabbed the steering wheel and yanked it to the right, causing the Impala to strike 24-year-old Eddie Fuentes, who was standing next to his parked vehicle.

The Impala then hit another car and came to a stop.

Rayford tried to flee on foot, but he was arrested shortly after in the 5400 block of South Maplewood Avenue, Cooperwood said.

Fuentes was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where he was pronounced dead at 8:19 a.m., according to the medical examiner’s office.

He suffered a severe brain injury, according to a police report.

Rayford, of the 11300 block of South Stewart Avenue, is a purported gang member, the report said. Rayford is facing reckless homicide and misdemeanor domestic battery charges.

Judge Peggy Chiampas said if he was eligible, Rayford could be placed on electronic monitoring or he could post 10 percent of a $100,000 bail.

Chiampas told Rayford he cannot drive if he is released from Cook County Jail.

Rayford’s wife was charged with a DUI following Sunday’s incident, prosecutors said.