Man denies murder charges in Zion shooting
By Beth Kramer firstname.lastname@example.org June 27, 2013 8:08PM
Jamal B. Johnson / photo from Zion police
Updated: July 30, 2013 7:17AM
One of the three men accused of shooting a man outside the Zion Aldi grocery store said he disagreed with his first-degree murder charges at his arraignment Thursday, June 27.
Jamal Johnson, 30, of Zion is accused of shooting Mutassem Ahmad Abdelaziz, 23, of Waukegan in the head outside Aldi in broad daylight on May 23. Johnson is one of three men charged with the murder. Officials said robbery appeared to be the motive.
Johnson was before Judge Christopher Stride for his arraignment Thursday. Stride explained to Johnson that he faces 45 years to life on some of the murder charges because Johnson is accused of shooting the gun — 20 to 60 years in prison on some of the charges and 35 to 75 years in prison on the rest of the first-degree murder charges.
“I don’t even know why I’m here, period,” Johnson said after Stride understood the charges against him and the penalties.
This sparked muffled exclamations of surprise from several people watching the arriagnment, where friends and family of the victim were present.
Johnson also said “I disagree” after Stride explained the 12-count indictment against him.
“I’m not asking if you agree or disagree. I’m simply asking if you understand what the charges are and their possible penalties,” Stride responded.
Johnson said he understood and Stride entered pleas of not guilty.
Co-defendant Rashee Bell, 22, of North Chicago and Douglas Alexander, 21, of Zion, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder at their arraignments Tuesday, June 25.
All three are in custody at Lake County Jail in lieu of $5 million bonds. Bell is due back in court July 8 and is due for trial Sept. 23. Alexander is due back in court July 18 and for trial Sept. 23. Johnson is due back in court July 3 to set a trial date.