Charges have been filed against Reginald Merrill, a 33-year-old Chicago man who is being blamed for the death of a 7-year-old girl. It is one of several deaths across the country that have people taking a harder look at gang violence across America’s cities.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot delivered an impassioned plea to those responsible for this kind of violence. She said in a speech that she wanted us all to feel the loss of children dying at the hands of gang members who fire indiscriminately into crowds.
Merrill has been charged with first-degree murder and aggravated battery.
Merrill is Apprehended
Merrill was apprehended two hours after the shooting driving a car that matched the description of the witnesses say was used in the drive-by. Police believe that he was the getaway driver and that there are three other suspects for whom they are searching.
Police believe that the shooting was related to gang activity, but in an interview, they did not fully commit to their case. The Chicago chief of detectives said in an interview that this was “ongoing gang violence” and that they had “some evidence” to support that. He also stated that it was “the best possible motive” that they could come up with at this time.
Merrill has six felony convictions on his record. In 2008, he pleaded guilty to aggravated battery on a police officer and was sentenced to four years in prison.
Over the weekend, at least 90 people were shot and 18 died. Natalia Wallace was among the 18 who lost their lives to gun violence.
Where is the Evidence?
Police tend to hold their best evidence close to their chest. But thus far, all they appear to have is a matched vehicle description. While Merrill’s criminal history will certainly hurt him in court, the police and prosecutors are still tasked with tying Merrill to the specific crime for which he has been charged. Since Merrill is not the one who allegedly pulled the trigger, these charges may end up going nowhere and this family may never get the justice that they so desperately deserve.
A successful prosecution of Merrill would include the murder weapon. In this case, finding the other three suspects is the first part of the process. Since Merrill will likely not provide any testimony to the police to help their case, having the vehicle can be a good first step. There is likely DNA evidence left behind that police could use against the other assailants. There may also be powder residue from the gunshots, but that may not tie these defendants to this crime.
Unfortunately, situations like this are difficult to prosecute. The prosecutors will not be able to try Merrill on a vehicle description. They will need better evidence than that.
Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you have been charged with a serious crime in the Chicago area, contact the Chicago criminal defense attorney David Freidberg at (312) 560-7100 today to learn more about how we can help.