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Article updated: 1/17/2013 9:57 AM

Third suspect pleads not guilty in fatal Waukegan shooting

By Lee Filas

The third man charged with the murder of a 42-year-old Waukegan man during a drug deal that went bad pleaded not guilty in Lake County court Thursday.

Steven Gee, 21, of the 1700 block of North McAree Road in Waukegan, faces eight counts of first-degree murder for the Dec. 13 shooting death of Randy Hardy of Waukegan.

Anthony Brito, 19, of the 2100 block of Grove Avenue in Waukegan, and Armando Sanders, 18, of the 1700 block of North McAree Road, Waukegan, also face eight counts of first-degree murder and pleaded not guilty during their arraignment hearing earlier this week.

Gee and Sanders face 75 years in prison if found guilty of the charges, Lake County Judge Christopher Stride said, while Brito faces life in prison.

Brito could receive a harsher sentence because authorities said he pulled the trigger, killing Hardy in the hallway of his apartment complex in the 1600 block of Berwick Boulevard.

All three are in Lake County jail in lieu of $1 million bail, but by court order they are in separate locations and may not communicate while behind bars.

Family members of Hardy who attended Thursday's hearing declined to comment.

Lake County Assistant State's Attorney Ari Fisz said earlier this week that Gee, Brito and Sanders went to an arranged drug deal with Hardy at Hardy's apartment complex.

While Gee waited outside the complex, Fisz said, Brito and Sanders knocked on Hardy's door, then displayed handguns when the victim answered.

A scuffle ensued, Fisz said, and Hardy was shot by Brito.

All three fled the area, but several apartment complex residents heard the gunshots and called Waukegan police. Officers arrested Brito, Gee, and Sanders in a park near Clearbrook Elementary School.

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