Men charged with fatal shooting during Evanston marijuana deal denied bond

- Both men charged with murder during an apparent drug robbery earlier this month in north suburban Evanston were denied bond Monday.

Julius Francellno and Malik Caswell, both 18, are facing charges of first-degree murder in the Feb. 8 shooting of 20-year-old Yakez Semark, according to Cook County prosecutors.

Shortly before 11:40 p.m., Semark and two other people drove to an alley near the 1800 block of Hovland Court, prosecutors said. Semark contacted Caswell through Facebook and Caswell arrived in the alley a short time later.

Semark got out of the vehicle and smoked with Caswell while they waited for Francellno to arrive, prosecutors said. When he did, Semark got into the vehicle with Francellno while Caswell stayed in the alley.

Semark gave an unspecified amount of marijuana to Francellno, who got out of the vehicle and walked away without paying, prosecutors said. Semark followed Francellno to the mouth of the alley where they argued and Francellno pulled out a gun and fired 2-3 shots, striking Semark twice in the chest.

Semark was taken to Evanston Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 12:15 a.m. Feb. 9, police and the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office said. He lived in the Rogers Park neighborhood.

Following the shooting, witnesses identified both Caswell and Francellno and investigators followed tracks in the snow to Francellno’s nearby home, prosecutors said. Detectives also got records from Facebook showing conversations between Caswell and Semark prior to the shooting.

Prosecutors said Caswell admitted to detectives that he knew Francellno had a gun and that he was aware of the planned robbery.

Francellno, of Evanston, was taken into custody Thursday and Caswell, of Chicago, was arrested Saturday, police said.

Caswell’s attorney said his client — a senior at an Evanston high school who was applying to colleges — had no idea the shooting would occur and had “lived a normal life as a teenager” up to the moment of the shooting.

Judge David Navarro said that even though this was Caswell’s first arrest, he would need to face the decisions he had made as an adult.

Both men were denied bond and scheduled to return to court Feb. 23 at the Skokie Courthouse.

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