An 18-year-old on probation for vehicular hijacking was denied bail Friday following his alleged role in another attempted carjacking this week that left a 73-year-old war veteran dead.
Frank Harris will remain in jail following his arrest on charges of murder and aggravated vehicular hijacking, stemming from the death of Keith Cooper, who was struck in the head Wednesday during the attempted carjacking.
A second defendant, who is a juvenile, is set to appear in court Saturday.
“The victim was a veteran, survived wars, but didn’t survive his encounter with this defendant and the co-defendant,” Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said during Harris’ bond hearing Friday afternoon.
According to Murphy, Cooper drove Wednesday to a CVS in the 1200 block of East 53rd Street in the Hyde Park, and as he exited his vehicle, he was approached by Harris and the other defendant.
The pair allegedly grabbed the car keys out of Cooper’s hand and tried to get inside his car. As he called out for help and demanded his keys back, Harris allegedly walked behind the vehicle and punched Cooper in the head from behind.
The other defendant allegedly pushed Cooper, and the two fled on foot after they were unable to get into the car, according to Murphy, who said the incident was captured on security footage.
Two witnesses called 911, but about two minutes after Harris and the juvenile left, Cooper collapsed to the ground, Murphy said. An off-duty paramedic arrived and performed chest compressions before Cooper was transported to the University of Chicago Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
According to Murphy, Harris and the other defendant were seen about a half-mile away from the scene changing clothes in a synagogue courtyard and they were arrested soon after.
In an interview with police investigators, Harris allegedly admitted that he and his co-defendant had approached Cooper’s car with the intent to take it. But he claimed that he “didn’t do anything” and said it was the co-defendant who had attempted to take Cooper’s keys, Murphy said.
During Friday’s hearing, Murphy said that Harris had pleaded guilty in May to a previous aggravated vehicular hijacking when he was a juvenile and was sentenced to two years of probation.
Harris is a high school senior who was shot in the foot a month ago, according to his attorney, which resulted in two broken bones. He has also been active in the youth organization GoodKids MadCity for the last year, his attorney said.
Harris is due back in court for a hearing Aug. 4.