Kim Foxx: 'Error' under Anita Alvarez preceded man's murder near jail

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx has blamed her predecessor for an "error" that led to the release of a man murdered less than an hour after he left Cook County Jail, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Kamari Belmont, 23, was released from jail around 11:15 p.m. last Monday and at 11:45, police said a white SUV pulled up alongside his car just a few blocks from the jail and someone inside that second car shot and killed him.

The driver of the white SUV ran a red light as it was getting away and resulted in a three car crash near California and I-55. The shooter was able to get away.

"No one had an idea that this was ever going to happen. I don't think he was targeted, who knows," said Michael Johnson, Belmont's attorney.

Belmont was charged with a 2015 murder but charges were dropped after prosecutors allowed too much time to pass by, a violation of the speedy trial statute.

A spokeswoman for State's Attorney Foxx, who was sworn in Dec. 1, said an "error" occurred in the handling of the case under the administration of Foxx's predecessor, Alvarez.

"As a result, case law demanded that we dismiss the murder charges," spokeswoman Tandra Simonton said in an email. "Going forward, we are working to improve training protocols for our prosecutors to prevent such errors."

Simonton didn't provide any other details about the error. Alvarez declined to comment, a spokeswoman said.

Johnson said he does not want to point the finger at any one person for why his client was not brought to trial, but he made it clear it was not the current state's attorney's mistake.

"I don't want to blame anybody, by the time Kim Foxx became states attorney she could not have remedied it. At that point, there was nothing Kim Foxx could've done to stop this from happening," Johnson said.

That leaves the previous state's attorney, Anita Alvarez, at fault for not indicting Belmont within the correct timeline.

Johnson said that sort of lapse is unusual.

"Very much so. I've done murder cases for 30 years and this is the first one I've had like this," he said.

Veteran defense attorney and Chicago-Kent Law School professor Richard Kling said the State's Attorney's office tracks speedy-trial deadlines closely, but it's not unusual for prosecutors to have problems locating witnesses necessary to bring a case to trial- sometimes forcing them to dismiss a charge.

It's also not rare, Kling said, for a defendant to be killed shortly after getting out of jail.

"I have many clients who have won an acquittal, and within a few days of getting out, they're dead," Kling said. "I don't remember anyone ever walking out of the jail and being killed."

Police are still looking for the person who was inside this white SUV who shot and killed Belmont.

Belmont's attorney does not think it was a gang-related shooting that killed his client. He said Belmont was being tried for a case that was not related to gangs.

Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report
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