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The murder trial of a Bellwood man accused in 2009 of shooting a female University of Illinois student outside an apartment complex started Monday at the Maybrook courthouse.

Police said Darrell J. Topps shot 18-year-old Keyana Bates, of Maywood, on June 15, 2009 around 10 p.m. outside an apartment building at the corner of York and Desplaines in Forest Park. Topps was charged with first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder after firing 15 shots into the car in which Bates and two others were sitting.

Authorities at the time did not believe she was the intended target. Police confirmed that Topps and a companion of Bates in the vehicle were members of rival gangs. Topps had even shot the man previously while he drove on the Eisenhower expressway. The driver and another passenger, both 19, were also in the vehicle, which fled over the grass parkway and drove away. The driver was hit in the left shoulder, but received medical attention and recovered.

“[Bates] definitely was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Forest Park Police Chief Jim Ryan in 2009.

Members of West Suburban Enhanced Drug and Gang Enforcement (WEDGE) helped arrest Topps. Four days after the homicide, they followed Topps and 24-year-old Tristan Agee, of Maywood, through a Burger King restaurant after locating the vehicle allegedly used in the shooting. According to Forest Park Review reports, they then followed the vehicle to a residence in Chicago and arrested Topps and Agee.

Police allege that Agee was the driver of the vehicle from which Topps shot Bates, and wanted to charge him with first-degree murder as well, but the Cook County State’s Attorney did not approve those charges at the time.

Bates was a student at the University of Illinois Chicago. Her 19th birthday would have been two days after she was killed.

A jury was selected Monday in Room 107 with Judge Carol Kipperman presiding.

This story was updated Aug. 29 to add courtroom and judge information.

Jean Lotus

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...