ROGERS PARK — It's been more than a year since Nick Costulas's brother was pulled off of life support after being punched, robbed and left bleeding on Howard Street.
Neighbors and loved ones of the victim, John Costulas, have filled benches in a Skokie courtroom during nearly monthly pretrial hearings of murder suspect Brandon Lee Hinton, 27, of south suburban Hazel Crest.
"I hope he pleads guilty and spends the rest of his life in prison," said Costulas, the victim's youngest brother at morning hearing Thursday.
John Costulas, a hearing impaired and developmentally disabled man, was walking toward the Howard "L" station to meet friends at a Near North Side Dunkin' Donuts on Sept. 2.
About 5 a.m. in the 500 block of West Howard Street, nearby his Rogers Park home, Hinton struck him in the head, knocking him to the ground, police said.
He then stole $10 and fled the scene with another person, police said.
Since Hinton was arrested and charged soon after, a group of Rogers Park residents have attended nearly every pretrial hearing to be sure justice is served.
Evanston Ald. Ann Rainey has been there, too.
"We've been here every single month since September 2011," she said in courtroom 206 at the Cook County Circuit Court in Skokie. "To be jumped beaten and robbed" like that, she said, "it's an example of the worst of humanity."
The trial has been postponed as the judge rules on what evidence can be used, said Bernard Garbo, CAPS facilitator in Rogers Park who has organized much of the community advocacy for the murder case.
But while waiting for a trial, Nick Costulas said the community members who have turned up to the hearings month after month feel "like a family."
Hinson's will appear again in court at 9:30 a.m. Feb. 28 in Skokie.