BY RUMMANA HUSSAIN, Chicago Sun-Times Criminal Courts Reporter
A Lake View man acted in selfdefense when he shot and killed a Far South Side gentleman’s club manager and injured the man’s fiancee in a road rage incident over the weekend, the alleged gunman’s lawyer argued Friday.
Angelo Bennett was grabbed in a headlock, choked and hit so hard he ended up with a gaping gash on top of his head, defense attorney John Miraglia said. Charles E. Jones “initiated the violence” following a minor accident in Goose Island involving Bennett, Miraglia said after Bennett, 24, was ordered held without bail for Sunday’s incident.
Jones was so irritated his Maserati was damaged he “assailed my client. He split his head open,” Miraglia told Cook County Judge Israel Desierto.
But prosecutors said it was Bennett who let the best of temper get him and shot 42yearold Jones twice in the head before aiming for Jones’ fiancee as she tried to flee in the luxury vehicle in the 1000 block of North Branch.
The 44-year-old woman, who was shot in the back, still has a bullet lodged in her vertebrae, Assistant State’s Attorney Jamie Santini said.
Bennett’s friend even refused to get in the back into Bennett’s Buick LaCrosse following the shootings, Santini said. He allegedly walked away while Bennett drove off with his weapon.
Just before the shooting began, Bennett and Jones, a manager at The Factory Chicago, had pulled over after Bennett’s car sideswiped Jones’ vehicle on Division, authorities said. Jones’ fiancee, meanwhile, called 911.
After a brief discussion with Jones, prosecutors said Bennett ran back to his car and fled the scene with his friend inside.
The friend, who is in the military, asked to be let out of the car, and Bennett eventually pulled over and the pair got out, Santini said.
Miraglia denied that his client drove away, saying that his tires were blown out as a result of the accident, making it impossible for him to peel away.
However, the defense attorney did concede his client hid a loaded silver revolver under another parked car. Miraglia explained because “alcohol” was a factor in the minor wreck, Bennett didn’t want to get into further trouble with authorities.
“It was bad decision,” Miraglia said of his client’s choice to have a gun.
“We do live in Chicago,” Bennett’s sister Alexandra Elias later said, telling reporters that her brother had a gun for protection.
Prosecutors said the weapon was used for shooting innocent people instead.
When Jones and his fiancee came upon Bennett again as they made their way to the nearest police station to report the accident, Jones got out and he and Bennett got into a “brief physical altercation,” Santini said.
At some point, Bennett broke away, retrieved his gun and began shooting, Santini said.
Bennett was identified by Jones’ fiancee and his friend told police he had seen Bennett fire his weapon at the two victims, Santini said.
Bennett, a Near North College Preparatory graduate who manages two Chicagoarea Jimmy Johns, allegedly admitted to police he dismantled the murder weapon and tossed the parts over a rooftop and a bridge.
After Friday’s bond hearing, Elias chastised the media for portraying her brother as an “animal” and told reporters he was a “good kid” full of charm and humor.
Miraglia, who gave reporters a picture of his client with an apparent injury to his head, said Bennett’s friend believes Bennett was in fear for his life when he opened fire.
“These are good kids [Bennett and his friend],” Miraglia said.