Friday, August 30, 2019

Lakeview homicide trial ends with "involuntary manslaughter" conviction... What's next?

Kevin O'Malley (left) in a photo from Facebook. | Facebook
A West Side man who was charged with murdering 25-year-old Kevin O’Malley during a botched robbery in Lakeview went on trial this week. And many people are not happy with the outcome.

Jurors declined to convict Kristopher Pitts of first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of O’Malley under the Red Line tracks on Oakdale Avenue early on May 30, 2015. Jurors also declined to convict him of second-degree murder. Instead, they found Pitts guilty of three counts of involuntary manslaughter, charges that carry prison sentences of just two to five years each.

Kristopher Pitts | CPD
Before the trial commenced on Monday, prosecutors dropped 14 felony counts that had been approved by a grand jury.

Honing allegations before trial is not unusual. But prosecutors put all of their eggs in the murder case. Tossed were five felony gun charges, three felony armed robbery charges, and six additional murder counts. So, jurors never had an opportunity to consider the gun and robbery aspects of the alleged crime. Only three remaining murder counts were on the table.

Pitts has been in Cook County Jail since cops arrested him at the Wellington Brown Line platform shortly after the murder. He’s earned almost 1,500 days of time-served credit that will be applied against any prison term. Exactly how much more time he will do is not known because there are many factors in play.

Pitts was on bond for another felony at the time of O’Malley’s death. That can be taken into consideration by the judge.

But even with the most severe possible sentence, Pitts can expect to receive a 50% reduction for good behavior and credit for time served. He's due back in court on Sept. 25.

Machete threat

Pitts was on bail awaiting trial for threatening police officers with a machete when he killed O’Malley.

On Feb. 23, 2014, police were called to Pitts’ home in Garfield Park after his upstairs neighbor reported that he threatened her with a two-foot-long machete and a German Shepherd. Pitts allegedly made similar threats against responding officers, who took him into custody after tazing him and the dog, which he reportedly set loose to attack police.

A grand jury approved four felony counts of aggravated assault of a police officer in the case. When the case went to trial in March of this year, prosecutors dropped two of the counts. A jury found Pitts guilty of the two remaining counts and a judge sentenced him two years in prison. But the sentence was off-set by a massive time served credit of 1,414 days.

He immediately appealed the conviction.

Pitts is currently facing another case in which he is charged with three felony counts of aggravated battery of a peace officer. Prosecutors say he spit in the face of a jail guard in January of last year. The case continues to work its way through the courts.

O’Malley murder

Flowers and notes to O'Malley near the scene of his death in May 2015. | File
Kevin O’Malley was from Chicago’s suburbs, but he was staying in the 1300 block of West Fletcher on the night that he was shot.

At 2:06 a.m. that night, a patrol officer found O’Malley’s body lying on the ground next to the L tracks at 942 West Oakdale. The cop initially thought O’Malley was another one of the many people police find passed out on Lakeview side streets after a night of drinking.

But the officer quickly realized that this situation was much different.
"33-Robert, emergency!"
"Go with your emergency."
"This male down is a person shot. Looks like 2 gunshot wounds to the chest. Pick it up!"
Seconds earlier, the officer saw Pitts run into a nearby alley and turn left into a long fenced-in yard.  He then scaled a fence, scurried onto the roof of a restaurant and then climbed further to the low-hanging southbound Wellington CTA platform.

Without seeing exactly where Pitts went, an officer followed his instincts in tracking Pitts and eventually climbed onto the Wellington platform himself. Pitts was arrested immediately. His gun was found in a yard at 2951 North Sheffield.
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