A Park Forest man will have to wait until this week to find out what charges he will face in the death of a man whose feet were found in a south suburban road last month.
An attorney for Marcus Hampton, 26, said she was expecting that Hampton would be arraigned last Wednesday, but she said prosecutors asked that the matter be postponed until this week. Even though she was expecting the charges last Wednesday, she said the delay was not unusual.
The attorney, Tamara Holder, said Hampton was ready to file a plea of not guilty to charges stemming from the hit-and-run accident on Oct. 12 that killed 60-year-old Michael Cranston.
Cranston’s severed legs were found Oct. 12, in the street on Vollmer Road just west of Crawford Avenue. His legs were severed below the knee at the time of impact, and his feet were severed from his lower legs. His body was thrown through the windshield and into the car Hampton was driving, Holder said.
“Mr. Hampton is a victim in this case as well,” Holder said, “and the facts in the case will show exactly that.”
The state has 30 days to file formal charges, and Holder said she expects charges this week. A grand jury is expected to convene to decide charges, which likely will be one count each of arson, obstruction of justice and leaving the scene of an accident involving death.
“We do have reason to believe that [the state] may bring a harsher charge of homicide, but we’re hoping it won’t be homicide,” Holder said.
A spokesman for Cook County State’s Attorney Dick Devine said last week, “We don’t comment on ongoing cases.”
The records state that on Oct. 12, Hampton transported Cranston’s body from the scene and then tried to conceal the accident by setting fire to the Oldsmobile Intrigue Hampton was driving, the complaint states.
Cranston’s body was later found off the side of the road in an industrial area at 130th Street and Lavergne Avenue in Alsip, Holder said.
Holder said Hampton is being held at Stateville Correctional Facility in Joliet, for a violation of his parole in a 2002 conviction for armed robbery.
Holder said she hopes to show that her client fled the scene “directly out of panic,” because of his parole status, and that the incidents that followed the accident make him a victim as well, she said.
Also charged in the case are Shawanda Smith, identified as Hampton’s girlfriend, and her brother, Anthony Smith Jr.
At a press conference at the Cook County Circuit Courthouse in Markham last Wednesday, Holder had character witnesses speak about Hampton.
The Rev. Marshall Hatch of New Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church in Austin, where Hampton reportedly attended, said Hampton was in the process of turning his life around.
“He had a certificate in air conditioning, and he is married and has a 2-year-old daughter that he’s very close to,” Hatch said.
Hampton’s father, Randall White, appeared with Holder, but said he had no comment.
Rev Ira Acree, pastor of Greater St. John Bible Church and a family friend, said Hampton confessed the incident to church officials at New Mount Pilgrim four days after the accident.
“This young man is not a killer, and as a church, we will support him,” Acree said. “These are the types of people we embrace. He made a bad error and we hope that justice and mercy go out to this brother because this could’ve happened to anyone.”