Justin Payne is charged with first-degree murder and armed robbery in the death of 64-year-old Louis Pena, according to Chicago Police and the Cook County State's Attorney's Office.
Payne appeared in court Thursday and was denied bail.
Pena, the owner of L&L Trucking at 4259 S. Keating Ave. in the Sleepy Hollow neighborhood, had employed Payne as a semitrailer driver, prosecutors said.
A witness told investigators that prior to his death, Pena had said he intended to fire Payne due to poor performance and attendance at work, prosecutors said.
On Dec. 30, 2016, Payne was seen wearing a "half mask" as he entered the trucking yard and walked toward a trailer that Pena used as an office and was working inside, prosecutors said.
According to authorities, Payne argued with Pena inside the trailer about his pay before he pulled out a knife, stabbed Pena repeatedly and then struck him in the head with a hammer. After killing Pena, Payne stole $3,000 in cash from the man's pocket.
Pena was found dead about 9:20 a.m. that day, according to Chicago Police.
An autopsy conducted by the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office found Pena had been stabbed 17 and had suffered severe trauma to the brain and skull. His death was ruled a homicide by assault.
A surveillance camera recorded Payne leave the trailer with a white bag and drive off in a Buick Lacerne that was registered to him, prosecutors said.
An arrest warrant was issued for Payne on Jan. 18 and he was arrested in New Orleans, where he had been living, on Feb. 7, according to a Chicago Police report.
In a videotaped interview with detectives, Payne at first denied being in the trucking yard on the day of the killing, but later identified himself as the person seen on video surveillance in the lot, prosecutors said.
He also admitted to stabbing Pena and hitting him with a hammer before taking the money from Pena's pants. He then put the hammer in the white bag and walking out.
Prosecutors said Payne told detectives he tried to wash the blood from his clothes, but ended up throwing them away.
Payne was scheduled to return to court for an arraignment Feb. 15.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire - Copyright Chicago Sun-Times 2017.)