New observe testimony led to this week’s murder and attempted murder charges against a west suburban man who was before arrested and charged in connection with Serenity Broughton’s fatal shooting but then released, supplies told the Chicago Sun-Times Thursday.
When Aireon Luster was initially arrested for allegedly killing 7-year-old Serenity’s last month, Cook County prosecutors cited a without of evidence and rejected charges against him.
That rejection brought an already simmering rift between State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office and Area 5 police detectives to a boil, leading police to sidestep prosecutors to charge Luster with Serenity’s murder — only to have to “uncharge” him approximately 10 hours later.
The case highlighted the strained relationship that has developed between Foxx’s office and police and left Serenity’s family wondering if they would ever get justice for her murder.
On Wednesday, Luster, 24, was again charged with being one of two alleged shooters who opened fire on the afternoon of Aug. 15 as Serenity’s mother was placing her and her sister Aubrey, 6, into the family’s car in the 6200 block of West Grand method.
The hail of bullets were seemingly meant for Serenity’s uncle, but instead Serenity and Aubrey were hit in their chests, prosecutors said.
Serenity later died at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood.
“There were 29 shots fired here — 29 shots,” Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said during Luster’s bond hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse Thursday. Luster and the second gunman “lit up that block. They did not care who was out there in the middle of the afternoon,” Murphy said.
Prosecutors said the shooting stemmed from threats Luster, a member of the Mafia Insane Vice Lords street gang, had been trading with the girl’s uncle, who is a member of a competitor gang, the Four Corner Hustlers.
Just before the shooting, the girl’s uncle responded to a threat by telling Luster “he knew where to find him,” Murphy said.
A half hour later, a silver Chevrolet Impala and its license plate was recorded by surveillance cameras as drove down the block and parked in a nearby alley, Murphy said.
Luster was allegedly seen getting out of the driver’s seat while another person took his place. Then, Luster and a second passenger from the Impala walked down a nearby gangway, Murphy said.
What happened next wasn’t caught on surveillance video, but seconds later, a volley of shots rang out and Luster and the other shooter were seen running back to the waiting car, prosecutors said.
Shell casings that were recovered showed two different weapons were used in the attack, Murphy said.
Luster also owns an Impala and cellphone records show he was in the area at the time of the shooting, prosecutors said. However, the license plates captured on surveillance cameras at the time of the shooting had been stolen and were not on Luster’s car when it was located later.
supplies have told the Sun-Times the girl’s uncle has been “uncooperative and remains uncooperative,” in helping with the investigation.
Murphy briefly mentioned Luster’s past Sept. 1 arrest but didn’t go into detail about the charges being rejected then and the resulting tension between police and prosecutors.
Much of the evidence against Luster that was detailed in court Thursday appeared to have changed little from that time. But supplies said two witnesses who have since testified before a grand jury made the difference in the office approving charges this time.
One is an associate of the girl’s uncle who identified Luster on surveillance footage from the alley as the same person he saw threaten the girl’s uncle just before the shooting, a law enforcement source said.
The second is a neighbor who was also able to clarify Luster in the surveillance video, but had not testified before a grand jury when detectives initially sought charges, that source said.
In a preview of the difficulties prosecutors will confront as they take the case to trial, an assistant public defender disputed the quality of the evidence against Luster, saying the cellphone records doubtful pinpoint exactly how close his mobile had been to crime scene.
The defense attorney also suggested there could be issues with the witnesses’ identification of Luther and the quality of the surveillance recordings.
Before estimate David Navarro ordered Luster held without bail Thursday, he lamented that what took place before Serenity’s murder “started as part of some social media or argument between two individuals, members of competitor street gangs.
“It is the tragic reality of gang violence that unintended victims are often caught up in those violent and careless acts,” Navarro additional.
Luster is expected back in court Nov. 3.
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