Man who refused to testify against co-defendant in Bensenville slaying gets longer sentence
Refusing to cooperate with prosecutors at his co-defendant's 2016 murder trial has earned Kenneth Bardlett an additional five years in prison.
Bardlett, 24, of Bellwood, pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of first-degree murder for his role in the Jan. 19, 2014, shooting death of Bensenville tobacco shop clerk Hussein Saghir.
DuPage County Judge Jeffrey MacKay sentenced Bardlett to 22 years in prison, to be served in full.
MacKay also found Bardlett in contempt of court for "engaging in unruly verbal and physical behavior" and "providing false testimony" and sentenced Bardlett to 180 days in DuPage jail with credit for time served.
Bardlett agreed in March 2014 to plead guilty to aggravated battery with a firearm and prosecutors agreed to cap his sentencing at 20 years, served at 85 percent, in exchange for his testimony against Stephan Russell in connection with the shooting.
Prosecutors ultimately withdrew the deal after Russell's conviction because Bardlett did not cooperate during Russell's trial.
After refusing to come to court twice in November 2016, Bardlett was forced to testify by a "drag order" signed by Judge Daniel Guerin, who presided over Russell's trial.
Once on the witness stand, Bardlett recanted his entire story. Instead of fingering Russell as the shooter, he testified that Russell wasn't even at the scene.
Prosecutors said Bardlett also refused to truthfully answer questions asked by Assistant State's Attorney Mike Pawl, even denying he was the suspect shown being interviewed on several snippets of his filmed interrogation.
He answered most of Pawl's questions during trial with "I don't know, man" and "Whatever you say, man."
At one point, Bardlett was reprimanded by Guerin for putting his feet up on the witness stand. Bardlett also criticized Pawl for "getting on my nerves."
A jury convicted Russell of first-degree murder on Nov. 18, 2016, for being the gunman who killed Saghir with a single shot that pierced his heart and both lungs. Russell is scheduled to be sentenced Monday and faces a sentence of 45 years to life in prison.
Saghir and his brother were closing Sam's Tobacco and Food Mart at 235 W. Irving Park Road around 5:45 p.m. Jan. 19, 2014, when they were confronted by Russell and Bardlett.
Prosecutors say video presented during Russell's trial shows 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 refused to re-enter the store, apparently to protect his 3-year-old nephew inside, Russell fired one shot from a black revolver over Hussein's head, the bullet lodging in the door frame.
Hussein continued to struggle outside the store and Russell fired one shot below Hussein's right armpit that pierced both of his lungs and his heart.
The pair and Tremayne Davis, who remained in the minivan during the robbery, immediately fled to Chicago.
Davis was sentenced to eight years in prison in 2016 after pleading guilty to attempted armed robbery in the case. He already is out of prison and is expected to be discharged from parole on Feb. 19, 2021.