Bail denied for teen charged in slayings of 3 in Chatham neighborhood

Nicko Grayson (police photo)

Nicko Grayson ((police photo))

By Jason Meisner Tribune reporter

2:05 p.m. CST, November 8, 2011

Bail was denied today for a teenager charged as an adult in a weekend triple murder, including one victim who was picking up pastries for her 2-year-old’s birthday party.

Dressed in a black hooded sweatshirt and blue pants, Nicko Grayson, 17, scowled when he appeared in court and was scolded by Judge Maria Kuriakos Ciesil when he turned his head away from the bench and began muttering something under his breath.

Grayson, of the 7000 block of South Perry Street, was charged with first-degree murder in the slayings of Chanda Thompson, Shawn Russell and a friend, Cortez Champion, all 21.

Cook County prosecutors said the victims were sitting in a car in a parking lot next to A Piece of Cake Bakery in the 400 block of East 87th Street at about 5 p.m. Saturday when a gunman emerged from an alley dressed in dark clothing and opened fire.

Thompson had just purchased a cake for her daughter’s birthday party scheduled for the next day, Assistant State’s Attorney Jamie Santini said.

“A witness watched as the defendant walked around the car firing his gun at the unarmed victims multiple times,” Santini said. “The witness then saw (Grayson) reach into the car and fire several more times at point-blank range.”

All three victims were struck multiple times in the head, neck and back. Police recovered 16 spent 9 mm shell casings and four fired bullets from around the car, according to Santini.

Prosecutors did not detail any motive for the killings in court, and Santini had no comment after the hearing.

Prosecutors said a witness heard gunshots, saw Grayson running and then enter a silver-colored car. The witness followed the car and saw Grayson and another person jump out of the car and run, while a third unidentified suspect drove off, according to Santini.

Detectives used witness descriptions of Grayson to identify him in a photo array. After his arrest he was identified in police lineups as the gunman, Santini said.

Grayson has an extensive juvenile record that began with a burglary conviction in 2008 when he was 14, Santini said. Over the next three years, he was convicted twice more of burglary as well as discharge of a firearm and violating his probation.

He was paroled from a juvenile detention center following his latest conviction last April, Santini said.

Champion grew up in the Calumet Heights neighborhood on the South Side, his grandmother Beatrice Champion said Monday.

Thompson, who lived with Russell in the same block as her father in south suburban Calumet City, was in college studying nursing and also worked part-time, her uncle said.

The close-knit family moved to Calumet City from Chicago because they thought it would be safer, said Thompson, who lives less than a mile away from his niece and brother.

“All we do is work and take care of our family,” he said.,0,1728732.story

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