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Man Killed Childhood Friend Over Single Pot Plant, Prosecutors Say

By  Kyla Gardner and Erin Meyer | October 10, 2013 1:52pm 

 Christopher Shoji, 25, killed his friend in the alley pictured above in North Center, prosecutors said.
Christopher Shoji, 25, killed his friend in the alley pictured above in North Center, prosecutors said.
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CHICAGO — After killing his childhood friend — fearing the friend would "snitch" about the one pot plant he was growing — Christopher Shoji was found by police at the scene of the crime hiding in a closet, clutching the shrub, prosecutors said.

Shoji and the victim, Salomon Morales, 25, were hanging out and drinking in the kitchen of a third childhood friend's garden apartment in the 2000 block of West Warner Avenue in the North Center neighborhood about 4 a.m. Tuesday, prosecutors said.

Shoji and Morales, who had known each other since elementary school, began arguing and fighting over the pot plant Shoji was growing in his mother's back yard, court documents show.

The third friend yelled at the two to get out of her apartment so she wouldn't be evicted, and was able to separate the fighting friends, prosecutors said.

Morales went outside into an alley with his beer while Shoji grabbed a knife from inside and followed him. Shoji then repeatedly stabbed his childhood friend in the left side of the chest, side and stomach, officials said.

When the third friend saw blood on the knife, Shoji immediately confessed to her that he stabbed Morales, prosecutors said.

Morales made it the one block back to his parents' home in the 4200 block of North Damen Avenue, leaving a blood trail the whole way. He knocked on the door and collapsed on the front porch, where his parents found him. He was taken to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, where he died at 6:41 a.m., officials said.

While Morales crawled home, Shoji ran to the pot plant he had feared his friend would "snitch" about. He uprooted the 4- to 5-foot-tall shrub, leaving the bloody knife behind in his mother's back yard.

He then ran back to the third friend's house, the scene of the crime, and hid in a closet with the pot plant, prosecutors said. That's where police found him, and he admitted to them that he stabbed Morales after an argument. Police recovered the knife.

Shoji was charged with first-degree murder and misdemeanor growing of marijuana, officials said.

He was ordered held without bail Thursday.