CHICAGO (AP) — Murder charges have been dropped against a man who was accused of fatally shooting four people at a Chicago restaurant in 2017, with prosecutors citing unreliable eyewitness accounts in their request for the case’s dismissal.
Maurice Harris, 22, was charged in April 2017 with more than two dozen counts, including murder and attempted murder, in the March 2017 quadruple killing. He’d been held without bail at the Cook County Jail since his arrest three years ago.
Court records show that at prosecutors’ request the charges against Harris were dropped at a Wednesday hearing.
Tandra Simonton, a spokeswoman for the state’s attorney’s office, said in a statement that eyewitness accounts were found to be unreliable.
“After a thorough review, which included an additional investigation that was conducted after the charges were filed, we concluded that the totality of the evidence, including eyewitness accounts, was insufficient to meet our burden of proof and we are unable to move forward with the prosecution of this case,” Simonton said.
She added that prosecutors asked the court to dismiss the all charges filed against Harris “in the interest of justice.”
Three eyewitnesses had previously identified Harris as the alleged killer of Dillon Jackson, 20; his brother, Raheem Jackson, 19; Emmanuel Stokes, 28; and Edwin Davis, 32.
When Harris was charged, police said he had carried out the shootings to avenge the fatal shooting of his 37-year-old father, Jerry Jacobs, who was slain along a sidewalk the day before the quadruple killing when four males got out of a van and opened fire.
The four victims were fatally shot at Nadia Fish and Chicken during a violent day in Chicago’s South Shore that saw seven people killed in the neighborhood.
Ian Barney, one of Harris’ attorneys, told the Chicago Sun-Times that he and other attorneys had uncovered a growing amount of evidence to show that Harris could not have been the shooter and that the witness identifications weren’t credible.
“I’m not going to second-guess what they did, because at the end of the day, they had individuals who identified our client in a photo array. But when you take a step back and you look at those identifications, they didn’t make any sense,” Barney said.
With the murder charges dropped, he said he expects Harris to be released from jail “relatively soon.”