COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — The lawyer of a man accused of shooting and killing a strip club manager after a fender-bender involving a Maserati sports car said the manager beat his client first, and the shooting was in self-defense.
Strip club manager Charles Jones "grabbed him, put him in a headlock, punched him in the head ... and choked him," attorney John Miraglia said Friday, moments after a Cook County judge ordered his client Angelo Bennett held without bail.
Bennett, 24, of the 4300 block of North Ashland Avenue, was charged with first-degree murder and aggravated battery with a firearm in the death of Jones, a manager at The Factory, a strip club in the Far South Side Riverdale neighborhood.
Bennett also is charged with attempted murder in the shooting of Jones' fiancee in the back as she tried to escape.
"My brother is a good kid. He takes care of his family," said Bennett's sister, Alexandra Elias, 22. "He's not violent."
Family members, huddled tearfully outside the courtroom Thursday, shared a photo of Bennett with dried blood caked above his left temple, evidence, they say, that Jones savagely beat Bennett.
But Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Jamie Santini portrayed Bennett as the instigator, laying out events leading to a double shooting that left Jones, 42, dead and his fiancee hospitalized with a bullet lodged in her back.
Santini said Bennett sideswiped Jones' Maserati with his Buick LaCrosse as both cars traveled east on Division Street early Sunday morning.
The two drivers pulled over, got out of their cars and exchanged words, Santini said. Bennett allegedly ran back to his car and fled with a friend in the passenger seat.
The friend demanded to get out, so Bennett pulled over in the 1000 block of North Branch Avenue. There, Santini said, Bennett hid a loaded silver gun under a nearby parked car.
Meanwhile, Jones and his fiancee had reported the incident to 911 and were en route to a police station when they came upon Bennett, Santini said.
The two men started fighting, but Bennett allegedly broke away and grabbed the hidden gun.
"[Bennett] walked directly up to Mr. Jones, who was unarmed, and pointed his gun at his head ... The defendant than fired his gun twice at close range," Santini said.
Jones' fiancee ran back to the Maserati, Santini said, and Bennett followed her and shot her in the back as she attempted to drive away.
Bennett is a graduate of North Side College Prep and manager of two Jimmy John's sandwich shops. The friend with Bennett the night of the the slaying is a Marine Corps service member.
"These aren't thugs looking to shoot someone over a fender-bender," said Miraglia.