Murder trial to begin in case of fatal armed robbery in Bensenville

  • Stephan Russell is alleged to be the gunman in the fatal armed robbery of Bensenville shop clerk in January 2014.

    Stephan Russell is alleged to be the gunman in the fatal armed robbery of Bensenville shop clerk in January 2014.

Updated 11/14/2016 6:36 PM

The trial of the accused gunman in the January 2014 slaying of a Bensenville convenience store owner is expected to start Tuesday in DuPage County court.

Stephan A. Russell, 22, has been held without bail after being accused by his co-defendants and prosecutors as being the gunman who killed Hussein Saghir, 36. If convicted, he faces natural life in prison.


Jury selection began Monday and prosecutors expect the trial to last until near Thanksgiving.

It is alleged that Saghir and his brother were closing Sam's Tobacco and Food Mart, 235 W. Irving Park Road, at about 5:45 p.m. Jan. 19, 2014, when they were confronted by Russell and Kenneth Bardlett, 22, of Bellwood.

Bardlett grabbed Saghir's brother, Ahmad, and attempted to drag him back into the store while Russell 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, Russell fired one shot from a black revolver over Hussein's head, prosecutors have said.

Hussein Saghir continued to struggle outside the store, and Russell is accused of firing one shot into his chest, killing him almost instantly.

The robbery almost didn't happen because the suspects expected only one employee to be working, authorities said.

Prosecutors expect witnesses to show that signals transmitted from cellphones recovered during the investigation were tracked back to Bensenville during and after the murder as the men returned to Chicago.

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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, 25, as the driver of the getaway vehicle. Prosecutors say Davis, after his arrest, also identified Russell as the lone gunman.

Photos, found on both Facebook and the men's cellphones, show Russell in Davis' basement holding the murder weapon up to his own head just days before the shooting.

Bardlett pleaded guilty in March 2014, to a lesser crime of aggravated battery with a firearm and agreed to cooperate with police and testify against all co-defendants. In exchange, prosecutors said they would seek no more than a 20-year prison sentence.

Davis, of Chicago, pleaded guilty in February 2016 to attempted armed robbery and received an eight-year prison sentence, of which he will serve half. He also must testify if called.

Davis also filmed a video account of the night's events from behind closed doors in the judge's conference room.

In a separate case, related to the shooting, 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's car and threatening to kill Bardlett's sister.

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