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Prosecutors: Driver Intentionally Rammed Teen to Death Against Tree After Fistfight

6:33 PM CDT on May 17, 2017

114th and May in Morgan Park. Image: Google Street View

A female driver who rammed a teen to death against a tree with her SUV has been charged with first-degree murder.

On Friday, May 12, at about 11:10 p.m., a fistfight broke out between Chynna Stapleton, 24, and Tatyanna Lewis, 18, near 114th and May in the Morgan Park neighborhood, prosecutors said at a hearing on Monday, according to a Chicago Tribune report. After the fight, which eventually involved bystanders, broke up, Stapleton got into her 2012 Jeep Liberty. A 13-year-old child, whose relationship to Stapleton is not known, was in the back seat.

Witnesses said that as Stapleton tried to drive off, Lewis kicked a passenger-side door, after which Stapleton yelled, “I’ve got something for you,” according to prosecutors. Lewis and others were walking off when Stapleton drove over the curb and speed down the sidewalk and lawns on May Street towards them. Lewis tried to run away but tripped, and Stapleton drove over her, ramming her against a tree.

Tatyanna Lewis
Tatyanna Lewis
Tatyanna Lewis

Stapleton then put the Jeep in reverse and Lewis, who was stuck to the front end of the vehicle, fell underneath, prosecutors said. The driver then reversed and ran over the victim with both sets of wheels

Lewis was transported to a nearby hospital, where she was pronounced dead. The Cook county medical examiner’s office has ruled the death a homicide.

Stapleton drove away from the scene trailing car parts and vehicle fluids, according to prosecutors. When police pulled her over about a mile and a half from the crime scene, the vehicle had heavy front-end damage and bark stuck to the grille. Stapleton’s face was bleeding but the child was not physically harmed.

At Monday’s hearing Stapleton’s defense attorney said the driver had been beaten before she got in her Jeep. However, Judge Maria Kuriakos Ciesil noted that the fight had already ended when the defendant got behind the wheel.

"Not only did you hit her, you dragged her," Kuriakos Ciesel told Stapleton. "All the while you've got a 13-year-old in the back seat. ... You are a danger to yourself and society." The judge ordered Stapleton held without bail on a first-degree murder charge.

Fatality Tracker: 2017 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths
Pedestrian: 11 (four were hit-and-run crashes)
Bicyclist: 1

Note: Streetsblog Chicago’s fatality numbers are based on media reports. According to fatality numbers released at last week’s Mayor’s Pedestrian Advisory Council meeting, there had been 14 pedestrian deaths in Chicago this year as of April 30.  There have been two media-reported pedestrian fatalities in May.

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