A man who finished serving a sentence for murder four months ago has been charged with a triple-slaying last week that left a South Side home strewn with bullet-riddled bodies.
Curtis A. Davis Jr. was once friends with the three men he’s now charged with shooting to death March 27 at an apartment in the West Woodlawn neighborhood, prosecutors said.
Dozens of shell casings littered the scene, and one victim was found on the porch, his body disfigured by 33 bullet wounds, authorities said.
One victim’s mother lives next to the two-flat where the shooting happened, and believes the shooting may have been sparked by an argument over a jacket.
“It sounded like an army, there were so many shots,” said Deborah Stewart, the mother of victim Terry L. Brown, 34, who lived in the apartment.
“I believe he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Stewart said. “It was brutal. It makes no sense at all what they did to him.”
On Sunday, Cook County Judge James Brown ordered Davis, 40, held without bail on three charges of murder. Davis, bald and dressed in a plaid shirt, did not speak during the brief hearing.
Davis was freed from prison about three years ago after serving time for the February 21, 1989 murder of Harvey Austin in a public housing building in the 4400 block of South Evans Avenue in the Bronzeville neighborhood, according to prosecutors and court records. Two other men were acquitted in separate trials, but jurors found Davis guilty in 1990 and he was sentenced to 40 years, according to court records.
He was paroled in November 2008, and he finished serving his sentence in November 2011, said Stacey Solano, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Corrections.
A few months ago, Stewart’s son introduced her to the man who is now accused of murdering him, she said. Stewart knew Davis had recently been freed from prison, but she was unaware he was a convicted killer, she said as she wore her son’s oversize coat on her front steps. A memorial of candles, balloons and liquor bottles stood nearby.
“He didn’t seem like that kind of person at all,” she said. “He’s been in my house. I fed him … I want to ask him: ‘What would make you do Terry like that? What did he ever do to you?’”
About 11 p.m. Tuesday, Davis knocked on the door of the apartment in the 6300 block of South Evans Avenue, Assistant State’s Attorney Terry Clancy said. One man in the apartment, Michael Nowels, 33, of the 6400 block of South Stony Island Avenue, had planned to leave, and he walked out of the apartment as another of the men answered the door to see Davis, Clancy said.
After the man closed the door on Davis, the gunman fired several shots at Nowels, who was later found on the home’s porch with 33 bullet wounds, Clancy said.
Davis then forced open the apartment’s door and opened fire on Brown and Julius Benford, 29, of the 4400 block of South Princeton Avenue. Once those two were wounded, another man in the apartment grabbed a gun and shot at Davis — without hitting him — before scrambling out of the apartment to safety, prosecutors said.
Davis, whose listed address is a public housing facility on West 71st Street near the Dan Ryan Expressway, left the home and disassembled and discarded the gun, Clancy said.
After the gunfire stopped, Brown’s mother ran to his apartment and found her son full of bullet holes.
“When I laid on him, I felt he was gone,” she said.
A witness identified Davis as the gunman, and he was arrested about 1:45 a.m. Friday at home. He confessed to the shootings, Clancy said.
Brown and Benford, known to friends as “Ju-Ju,” had been close friends since childhood, Stewart said. She acknowledged her son had some troubled friends in his younger days, but she said he was working odd jobs in construction and remodeling to help support his two children. She said there was a large amount of cash in the apartment but that it came from her, because she had just bought his truck, she said.
Nowels had diabetes and had struggled to find work because of frequent medical episodes that required hospital visits, said his mother, Cynthia Nowels. He occasionally went to Brown’s house to play video games, she said.
Authorities found about two dozen bullet casings leading from the back porch into the home and believed shots were fired from at least two weapons, police said last week. Narcotics and bundles of cash were found wrapped in plastic in a bedroom, according to a source.