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No bail for man charged with strangling girlfriend in South Side apartment

Some Cook County judges seeking retention in November stand out for the excellent reputations they have earned for their work on the bench.

Cook County's Leighton Criminal Court building. | Sun-Times files

A judge denied bail on Sunday for a young architect accused of strangling his girlfriend and taking their young child to O’Hare Airport.

Devon Charlton, 26, was arrested at the Delta Airlines baggage claim Thursday and charged with felony first-degree murder after police found his 23-year-old partner dead in their South Side apartment, according to the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.

Someone called 311 Thursday morning and told the operator that “Devon had killed someone” at the residence, Assistant State’s Attorney Luis Muniz said at Sunday’s bail hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court Building.

Police showed up at 11 a.m. Jan. 31 and found Ninaa Edwards lying unresponsive on a bed at an apartment in the 1400 block of East 70th Street, Muniz said. Her body was stiff and had red marks around the neck, Muniz said.

She was pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy ruled her death a homicide by asphyxiation, the Cook County medical examiner’s office said.

Devon Charlton | Chicago police

That afternoon, police learned that Charlton was Edwards’ partner, and tracked his phone to the baggage claim at O’Hare, where officers arrested him and found his 16-month-old child, Muniz said.

Prosecutors said Charlton admitted to the murder to four separate witnesses, including his mother. Charlton even attempted to have a coworker sign paperwork regarding the custody of his child, Muniz said. Prosecutors did not elaborate.

Defense attorney Joshua Kutnick said Charlton was at O’Hare not to flee but to pick up his mother who was arriving from Miami.

Kutnick said the relationship between Charlton and Edwards “was a tense situation.”

“I know that there were difficulties,” Kutnick said. “There could be things that were defensive that may have involved the safety of the child.”

Charlton is an architect and has worked for four years in Chicago at Studio ARQ, Kutnick said. The attorney requested a reasonable bail, citing Charlton’s lack of criminal history and that he had not tried to escape.

Judge David Navarro said he still had to consider the alleged admissions of murder made to four witnesses in setting bail.

“I find you a real and present threat to the community,” Navarro said. “I’m denying bond.”

Charlton was set to appear in court again Monday for a review of his bond.