Thaddeus ‘T.J.’ Jimenez, subject of ‘Motive’ podcast, loses bid to drop charges in viral video shooting

He’d asked Illinois’ appeals court to toss the charges in the caught-on-video attack because he already was convicted of a federal gun charge stemming from the same shooting.

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Thaddeus “T.J.” Jimenez was caught on a cellphone video shooting Earl Casteel in the legs on Aug. 17, 2015, in Irving Park. The video, which went viral, was shown during Jimenez’s trial in federal court.

Thaddeus “T.J.” Jimenez was caught on a cellphone video shooting Earl Casteel in the legs on Aug. 17, 2015, in Irving Park. The video, which went viral, was shown during Jimenez’s trial in federal court.

U.S. District Court

Thaddeus “T.J.” Jimenez has lost again.

Jimenez won a fortune from the city of Chicago in a wrongful-conviction lawsuit only to spend it on fast cars and his fellow gang members and end up arrested for a 2015 shooting that was caught on video. Now, he has lost a bid to get the Illinois Appellate Court to throw out the attempted-murder case stemming from that shooting.

Jimenez was the subject of the Chicago Sun-Times / WBEZ Chicago podcast “Motive.”

It chronicled how he was charged with murder at 13, spent 16 years in prison but was freed in 2009 after a witness admitted he lied when he told the police Jimenez was the killer. Jimenez sued City Hall for wrongful arrest, and a jury awarded him $25 million. He lavished much of that money on his gang, the Sun-Times has reported.

The new appeals court ruling stems from an August 2015 shooting. Jimenez, driving a convertible Mercedes, is seen in the video stopping and shooting a man named Earl Casteel in the legs on the Northwest Side.

Jimenez was riding with a fellow Simon City Royals gang member who recorded the shooting on his cellphone. The police recovered the phone after Jimenez crashed while being chased.

The video was played in federal court at a trial in which Jimenez was convicted and sentenced to nine years in prison for illegal possession of the gun used in the shooting.

He still faces trial in Cook County criminal court on state charges of attempted murder and aggravated battery in the same shooting.

In happier times, Thaddeus “T.J.” Jimenez and his mother Victoria on June 3, 2009. after he was awarded a certificate of innocence in the murder case that sent him to prison at 13.

In happier times, Thaddeus “T.J.” Jimenez and his mother Victoria on June 3, 2009. after he was awarded a certificate of innocence in the murder case that sent him to prison at 13.

Brian Jackson / Sun-Times file

That case was on hold while Jimenez appealed, arguing that the state charges amounted to double jeopardy — being prosecuted twice for the same crime, which would be unconstitutional.

But the Illinois Appellate Court has decided that the federal weapons charge for which Jimenez was convicted is distinct from the attempted murder and aggravated battery charges and said the case can proceed to trial.

Now, Jimenez has asked the Illinois Supreme Court to consider his appeal.

Steve Greenberg, his lawyer, called the appeals court’s ruling “a terrible decision” that “would make the writers of the Constitution roll over in their graves.”

A Cook County criminal court judge previously dismissed a state charge of illegal gun possession in connection with the 2015 shooting based on the same double-jeopardy argument.

In a separate civil proceeding, Casteel is asking a Cook County judge to allow him to seize a west suburban home owned by the mother of Jimenez’s two children. That’s to collect a portion of the $6.3 million he won in 2016 in a lawsuit he filed against Jimenez over the shooting.

Jimenez, who’s being held in the Cook County Jail, still also faces other charges. Those are the result of a brawl inside the jail on Jan. 8, 2020.

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To stream “Motive,” the true-crime podcast hosted by Chicago Sun-Times reporter Frank Main and to read the stories that led to it and see videos, court documents and other material that helped report the story, go to https://chicago.suntimes.com/e/20626939

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