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Article updated: 2/12/2014 5:18 PM

$2.5 million bond set for man held in Bensenville slaying, search continues for gunman

Kenneth Bardlett

Kenneth Bardlett

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Bond was set at $2.5 million Wednesday for a 20-year-old Bellwood man charged with first-degree murder and armed robbery in connection with the Jan. 19 shooting death of a Bensenville convenience store clerk.

Kenneth Bardlett of 49th Avenue was arrested at his home Friday night and is being held at DuPage County jail for his role in what Bensenville police Chief Frank Kosman described as "an armed robbery that went wrong."

Police are still looking for the second man involved in the robbery, who authorities believe did the actual shooting that claimed the life of Hussein Saghir, a clerk at Sam's Tobacco and Food Mart, 235 W. Irving Park Road.

"The Bensenville Police Department and the Major Crimes Task Force will continue to investigate this coldblooded murder until all parties responsible have been held accountable," DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin wrote in a prepared statement Wednesday.

Assistant State's Attorney Tim Diamond, who sought a $5 million bond for Bardlett, said Saghir and another employee were closing the store just before 6 p.m. when they were confronted by Bardlett and another man.

Saghir refused to re-enter the store, apparently because he wanted to protect his 3-year-old nephew who was inside. After a brief struggle, authorities said Bardlett's accomplice shot and killed Saghir.

Diamond said Bardlett, who has previous convictions for unlawful use of a weapon and reckless conduct, confessed to planning the armed robbery, thinking the men wouldn't get caught because they were outside of their neighborhood. Diamond said Bardlett also confirmed he is the second man shown in the surveillance video that captured the armed robbery attempt and eventual shooting.

Outside Wednesday's hearing, the Bardlett family's pastors and his cousin spoke on his behalf.

Revs. Willie and Darlene Cleveland of Mt. Zion Temple of Deliverance Church in Chicago attended the bond hearing on behalf of Bardlett's mother, who was working.

"The allegations are devastating, as they would be to any parent or family member," Darlene Cleveland said. "(Bardlett) attended services and prayed with us on Friday. This is shocking."

Bardlett's cousin, Andrea George, also attended the hearing to support Bardlett. She called him a good man and said he was not involved in the murder, despite prosecutors' claims.

"I don't think Kenneth admitted to anything he didn't do, so I don't know about that," she said. "I think (prosecutors) made a mistake. I really do. I hope they get this cleared out."

Bardlett's next two court appearances are scheduled for Feb. 24 and March 10, both at 8:30 a.m., in courtroom 4010.

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