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Driver Charged in the May 17 Vehicular Homicide of Naisha Weems, 28, in Austin

The 300 block of North Latrobe. Image: John Greenfield

On May 12 Chynna Stapleton, 24, allegedly rammed Tatyanna Lewis, 18, against a tree in the wake of a fistfight near 114th and May in the Morgan Park neighborhood. Five days later there was a nearly identical vehicular homicide in the Austin community, prosecutors said.

At a court hearing last Sunday, 28-year-old Kenya Washington, allegedly the driver in the May 17 case on the West Side, was ordered held in lieu of $1 million bail in the murder of Naisha Weems, 27, according to a Chicago Tribune report. Washington was also charged with attempted murder for injuring a 23-year-old man during the altercation.

Naisha Weems. Photo: Facebook
Naisha Weems. Photo: Facebook
Naisha Weems. Photo: Facebook

According to prosecutors, on the day of the murder Washington and Weems fought each other, and the conflict grew into a dispute between two large crowds of people, who gathered at different ends of the 300 block of North Latrobe, yelling and throwing rocks and other objects at each other. Around 5:05 p.m. Washington got behind the wheel of a black Nissan parked near Lake Street with two passengers.

Washington then drove south on Latrobe and intentionally struck the man, who knew both women, prosecutors said. The impact threw him several feet from the crash. The driver continued south and struck Weems, who went under the car. Washington shifted into reverse to dislodge the victim and then fled the scene.

Weems, of the 1700 block of North Laramie, was transported to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood and pronounced dead, according to the Cook County medical examiner.

According to prosecutors, several people reported witnessing the murder, and some of them filmed the killing on their cell phones. Security camera footage from a nearby building also recorded the incident.

On June 8 Cook County Judge Nicholas Ford issued a warrant for Washington’s arrest, the Tribune reported. The driver, who had formerly lived in Austin, was arrested on Sunday in the near Madison and Chestnut after police received a call of a person wanted, authorities said.

Fatality Tracker: 2017 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths
Pedestrian: 15 (six were hit-and-run crashes)
Bicyclist: 2

Note: Streetsblog Chicago’s fatality numbers are based on media reports of fatal crashes on Chicago streets. According to fatality numbers released at a recent Mayor’s Pedestrian Advisory Council meeting, there had been 14 pedestrian deaths in Chicago this year as of April 30. There have been six media-reported pedestrian fatality since that date, which means that a total of at least 20 people have been fatally struck while on foot in Chicago this year. In addition to the on-street bike fatalities, on June 24 a cyclist was riding on a CTA train platform when he fell on the tracks and was fatally struck.

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