BY BRIAN SLODYSKO
Tattooed across the throat of Mark A. Hall, one of two men accused of killing a deacon and a blues musician during botched robberies last December, is the phrase: “God 4 Gives I Don’t.”
On Sunday, it was Cook County Judge Adam Bourgeois’ turn to be unforgiving. With a dismissive nod, Bourgeois ordered Hall held without bail as he awaits trial. His co-defendant, Devin Aldridge, was ordered held without bond on Saturday.
Hall and Aldridge, both 23, were charged with two counts each of first-degree murder for the early morning killings of deacon Willie Cooper and musician Eric “Guitar” Davis on Dec. 19, 2013, in the South Shore neighborhood, authorities said.
Cooper and Davis were shot to death within 40 minutes just blocks from each other, Assistant State’s Attorney Luz Toledo said in court.
In both cases, the men were in their vehicles waiting to pick up a friend, prosecutors said. Each tried to speed away to avoid getting robbed by Aldridge and Hall, prosecutors alleged. Instead, they both died in a hail of 9 mm bullets that were traced to the same handgun, according to prosecutors.
Cooper, 74, was shot at 4:44 a.m. in the 7000 block of South East End Avenue. Davis, 41, was sitting in his vehicle in the 6700 block of South East End about 5:20 a.m. when he was shot, police said.
Davis, of the 14200 block of South Eggleston in Riverdale, and Cooper, of the 6800 block of South Crandon, were dead at the scene, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.
Prosecutors credited the arrest of Aldridge and Hall to the work of family, police and Cook County Crime Stoppers. The groups distributed fliers with video surveillance images of the suspects in the neighborhood. Officers in the district recognized Aldridge and Hall from the fliers.
Prosecutors said a witness came forward in June and identified Aldridge as one of the people running away from the car after Cooper was fatally shot. Aldridge’s phone number also “pinged” a cell tower near the area of that homicide, prosecutors said. Surveillance footage shows Hall shooting Cooper, prosecutors said.
“Willie Cooper was a deacon of his church and a great person who would help anyone,” Crime Stoppers Chairman George McDade said in a statement in June. “Eric Davis is from a family of jazz musicians and had a promising career.”
McDade called both men “pillars in their community.”