CHICAGO (FOX 32/Sun-Times Media Wire) - Cook County prosecutors piled more than 50 felony counts in the formal indictment against Shomari Legghette, the suspect accused of murdering Chicago Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer.
Legghette, 44, who had been held without bond on charges for first-degree murder, armed violence, and possession of a firearm and possession of a controlled substance, is set for arraignment on Monday.
The new counts, handed up by a grand jury, include more than two dozen counts of murder, as well as a combined 32 additional counts of armed violence and related weapons charges— a total of 56 counts in all.
At the brief hearing on Friday at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse, prosecutors said Legghette’s arraignment will take place in front of Chief Criminal Courts Judge LeRoy K. Martin Jr.
Prosecutors say Legghette, a four-time convicted felon, struggled with Bauer in a stairwell outside the Thompson Center last month, after fleeing from police who tried to question him on Lower Wacker Drive.
Bauer was shot six times. Fellow officers arrived at the scene and caught Legghette as he ran from the stairwell. Legghette was wearing body armor at the time of the shooting, and was allegedly carrying small amounts of heroin and cocaine.
Grand jury indictments often tack on additional counts to the initial criminal complaints brought against a criminal defendant, said Richard Kling, a Chicago-Kent College of Law professor. In high-profile cases, dozens of additional counts are not uncommon, either as a hedge against making a case in the most serious charges at trial, to send a message to the defendant, or both.
The practice, less common under State’s Attorney Kim Foxx than it was under her predecessor, Anita Alvarez, has little effect on the final sentence in a murder case, but still happens frequently, Kling said.
“If you go down the statute book and say ‘he killed a police officer,’ and then you can say ‘he attempted to kill a police officer,’ that’s another count, ‘he tried to flee from a police officer,’ that’s another count,” Kling said. “(Prosecutors) always do that.”
When Legghette was sentenced for armed robbery back in 1999, a probation investigator wrote a report summarizing his research into Legghette's past. Legghette told him he had "a good childhood with no alcohol/drug abuse and no emotional, physical, or sexual abuse or neglect noted." He wanted the sentencing judge to know, "I'm a productive citizen. I play a major role in my family's productivity cause I have a lot of nieces and nephews that I take care of."
As for his goals, Legghette said, "I wanted to continue my education. I play basketball for high school and basketball for college, tried to get into the CBA." He said he had studied graphics engineering at a college in Mississippi but quit school when he encountered financial problems. The court file also includes a letter to the sentencing judge from one of Legghette's friends, saying,"Shomari is a very caring and kind-hearted person...a hardworking taxpaying citizen who spoke of furthering his education."
Despite pleas like that one, the judge gave Legghette a 16-year sentence. Legghette served about half of it. He'll be back in court Monday for his arraignment.