A 20-year-old Bellwood man pleaded guilty Thursday to aggravated battery with a firearm in the Jan. 19 slaying of a Bensenville convenience store owner.
Kenneth Bardlett also has identified the accomplice who fired the fatal shot, prosecutors said, part of a plea deal to assist authorities in their continuing investigation. In turn, seven other charges, including first-degree murder and armed robbery, were dropped against Bardlett.
Assistant State's Attorney Tim Diamond said the shooting victim, Hussein Saghir, and his brother were closing Sam's Tobacco and Food Mart at 235 W. Irving Park Road about 5:45 p.m. Jan. 19 when they were confronted by Bardlett and another man.
Diamond said Bardlett grabbed Saghir's brother, Ahmad, and attempted to drag him back into the store while his accomplice kept a handgun pointed at Hussein Saghir.
When Hussein Saghir refused to re-enter the store, apparently to protect his 3-year-old nephew who was inside, the accomplice fired one shot over Hussein's head, Diamond said.
Bardlett told authorities that after a brief struggle, his accomplice -- Stephan A. Russell, 20, of Chicago -- shot and killed Saghir with one shot to the chest, Diamond said in court.
Diamond said Bardlett, who has previous convictions for unlawful use of a weapon and reckless conduct, confessed to planning the armed robbery and, during multiple police interviews, identified Russell as the gunman and Tremayne Davis, 23, as the driver of the getaway vehicle.
Russell and Davis each are being held on $2.5 million bail. Davis is charged with first-degree murder, attempted armed robbery and obstruction of justice.
Russell is charged with four counts of harassing a family member of a witness and two counts of intimidation using physical harm. He's accused of throwing a bottle at Bardlett's mother and threatening to kill Bardlett's sister.
Diamond said Bardlett also has identified two other men who drove a separate car and served as "counter-surveilance" to watch for police in the area. They have yet to be apprehended.
In exchange for Bardlett's "truthful cooperation and testimony" in the prosecution of the other four men, prosecutors agreed to request no more than 20 years in prison for Bardlett. He will have to serve 85 percent of his sentence.
Bardlett otherwise faced a sentence of between six and 30 years on the battery charge alone.
He may not be sentenced for a few years, however, because Judge Daniel Guerin agreed to postpone sentencing until after Bardlett's cooperation and testimony are complete in the cases of the other four men.
Bardlett is next due in court on Sept. 25.