Darrel Topps

An unresolved 2009 murder case finally concluded this past April. The six-year-old case, which included a hung jury, ended with the accused man accepting a plea deal.

Around 10 p.m. on June 15, 2009, Kenyana Bates, an 18-year-old University of Illinois student, sat in a parked car outside an apartment complex at 837 Dunlop Ave. in Forest Park. Two other individuals, both males, were also sitting in the vehicle.

Suddenly, a gunman, firing from a nearby car, directed 15 rounds at the three individuals, killing Bates. The driver was hit in the left shoulder but recovered. A third passenger was unharmed. Four days later, Forest Park detectives, in collaboration with a west suburban gang task force, arrested Darrel Topps, then 28, of Bellwood, on first-degree murder charges.

Authorities believed Bates was not the intended target. Instead, they posited Topps was aiming for one of the other passengers, allegedly a rival gang member. Officials later discovered Topps attempted to shoot the same man while driving on the Eisenhower Expressway in July 2008.

As reported by the Review, Topps’ trial began in 2012 but two jurors refused to convict and the proceedings ended with a hung jury.

“Some of the witnesses seemed to have changed their stories,” Police Chief Tom Aftanas (then deputy chief) said at the time. “We are disappointed, to say the least,” he concluded then.

Before this latest incident, Topps had been incarcerated two times. One incident, in 2002, involved fleeing a police officer and a second, in 2005, was for aggravated unlawful use of a weapon.

According to the Cook County State’s Attorney, the case concluded last month when Topps pled guilty to a second-degree murder charge. Gregory Ginex, associate judge of the Cook County Circuit Court, sentenced Topps to 15 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

“The state’s attorney presented him with a plea deal … [and] he didn’t want to risk a second trial,” Aftanas told the Review. 

Accounting for time already served, Topps will be eligible for parole in November 2016.

The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office did not respond to requests for comment by press time.