Sole Witness Murdered, But Prosecutors Hope To Use Her Words in Court
COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — A man has been charged with killing a woman who was going to tell a jury that she saw him murder her boyfriend, prosecutors said Thursday.
Charged with murder is Demarius Bridges, 24. Prosecutors say his brother, Terry Bridges, also charged in the murder, arranged to offer Kimberly Harris $20,000 not testify. But then Terry Bridges and a co-defendant, Tyrell Lewis, killed her when she came to collect the payoff.
In bond court Thursday, Cook County Assistant State's Attorney John Dillon described how Harris, 26, and her boyfriend Keith Slugg were having sex in a car in the 1000 West block of Maxwell Street around 4 a.m on August 28, 2011.
Demarius Bridges and at least one other person "opened fire" on the car, killing Sluggs. Harris also suffered multiple gunshot wounds but survived to testify before a grand jury as the only witness to the murder of Sluggs.
With Bridges in jail awaiting his criminal trial in the death of Sluggs, Bridge's brother Terry allegedly contacted Harris, offering to pay her $20,000 "not to go to court and testify," according to Dillon.
She decided to take the money, and the two arranged to meet, the prosecutor said.
Harris drove with a friend on April 15, 2012 to the 2900 block of Arthington Street to get the money, Dillon said. When they arrived, Harris allegedly got out of the car and Lewis shot her nine times.
Lewis allegedly threw the gun and Harris' purse on the roof of a nearby building and fled to a getaway car driven by Terry Bridges, Dillon said. When police later recovered the gun, they determined it was the same weapon used to kill Slugg.
Terry Bridges and Tyrell Lewis are also charged in Harris' murder.
Bond was set at $350,000 Thursday for Demarius Bridges but he is already being held on no bond in the slaying of Sluggs.
After his arrest, Terry Bridges admitted to telling Lewis the "old girl was going to get it," prosecutors said. He also told police that Lewis said after the shooting, "I hope old girl is dead because she saw my face."
Terry Bridges said that Lewis had met with Demarius Bridges at Cook County Jail, where the brother offered Lewis money to kill Harris, the prosecutor said.
Terry Bridges said his brother told him, "People are going to take care of it and I don't want you involved."
Even though Harris is dead, prosecutors are expected to use her statements to try to prove that Demarius Bridges killed her boyfriend. They may use the same testimony to convince a jury that Demarius Bridges is also responsible for Harris' death.
Until recently, said Public Defender Marijane Placek, those kind of statements would have been considered "hearsay" and not evidence permissible in court.
However, under the "Drew Peterson law" enacted in 2008, hearsay statements, even from those who are now dead, can be used in court in certain circumstances. In the Drew Peterson case, a minister testified that Peterson's missing fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, told him Drew Peterson had killed his third wife, Kathleen Savio.
Placek says the state's case is weak.
"It's tenuous at best," she said. "We don't think it fits with the Drew Peterson (law)."