A Chicago man is facing a first-degree murder charge after he allegedly stabbed a 75-year-old man to death “for no apparent reason” last month in a gangway in the Rogers Park neighborhood.
Cash Johnson, 26, was ordered held without bail Tuesday during his first appearance in court following the murder of Nanda Bhattarai, who died last month after he was stabbed eight times in his stomach and back.
Cook County prosecutors said that on the evening of March 19, Johnson could be seen on surveillance video exiting his Ashland Avenue home and walking toward a McDonald’s in the 6700 block of North Clark Street.
After buying food, Johnson began walking back home through some alleyways and eventually crossed paths with Bhattarai, who was heading in the same direction. The two men “gestured” toward each other, prosecutors said, before heading into a gangway where there were no surveillance cameras.
One minute later, Bhattarai could be seen walking out of the gangway holding his stomach and bleeding profusely. According to prosecutors, Bhattarai suffered five stab wounds to his stomach, one to his hip and two to his back, but was able to walk two blocks to his home where he called 911.
He was subsequently transported to St. Francis Hospital, where he died on March 31.
Prosecutors said Johnson could be seen exiting the opposite side of the gangway and jogging back to his home. He was eventually identified through that surveillance footage and was arrested by Chicago police Monday morning.
Johnsons allegedly identified himself in a still photo taken from footage recovered outside the gangway, but he gave conflicting accounts of what had transpired.
He first said two other men had chased him and Bhattarai, according to prosecutors, and that they had been responsible for the attack. But when told by investigators about the surveillance cameras, Johnson allegedly changed his story to say that it was Bhattarai who had the knife, and that he had grabbed it and stabbed Bhattarai twice in the stomach.
Johnson eventually admitted it was actually his knife, and said he gestured toward Bhattarai because he thought Bhattarai wanted to buy some marijuana from him, prosecutors said.
Johnson’s attorney said her client has a history of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and is on medication for those conditions.
In setting bond, Cook County Judge Susana Ortiz said it appeared Johnson had “randomly selected” Bhattarai and stabbed him for “no apparent reason.” She rejected a request by Johnson’s attorney to place him under house arrest, saying she found him to be a “clear and present danger to the community.”
Johnson is due back in court on May 3.