Prosecutors say a Chicago man set his step-brother’s car on fire (with the step-brother lying dead of a gunshot wound in the trunk) while free on bond for a pending gun case, but he’s not charged with murder.

Of course, there have been several high-profile examples in recent months of Cook County prosecutors refusing to charge people with murder despite investigators’ belief that there was more than enough evidence to prosecute.

In another case, prosecutors only pursued misdemeanor charges when police and the victim’s family believed a murder charge was appropriate. And, of course, there was the infamous “mutual combatants” shootout that resulted in no criminal charges being filed — not even for illegal gun possession or recklessly discharging guns on the street.

But rarely does the public get to hear the details of these cases. Until now.

Concealment

After 19-year-old Myron Richardson was found dead in the trunk of his burned-out car with a bullet wound to the back of his head on July 6, the Sun-Times ran a lengthy story about his mother’s understandable desire to know more about what happened to him. The Cook County medical examiner ruled Richardson’s death a homicide by gunshot.

“Mom struggles to get answers from cops about murdered son. ‘They just think Myron is another Black kid who just got slain in the street, and that’s not my baby,'” read the paper’s July 15 headline.

As it turns out, answers to questions about what happened to Richardson may have been closer than his mother imagined: Richardson’s 20-year-old step-brother, Darius Dawson, was brought before a Cook County Judge Maryam Ahmad for a bond hearing on the day after Thanksgiving to face charges in the case.

Chicago Police Department arrest records indicate that CPD officers wanted to charge Dawson with first-degree murder in Richardson’s death. But prosecutors didn’t approve murder charges.

Instead, veteran prosecutor James Murphy said during the bond hearing, Richardson was charged with concealing a homicide “as of right now,” suggesting that the state might eventually pursue more serious charges.

Murphy then provided Ahmad with a detailed explanation of what the state believes happened to Myron Richardson.

Not a passenger

It turns out that Richardson and Dawson were involved in an unemployment scheme and Richardson had control of the debit card that received the state’s deposits, Murphy said.

On July 5, the men exchanged texts because an unemployment payment they were expecting did not appear on the card, according to Murphy. The next morning, Richardson told his girlfriend that he was going to Dawson’s house to talk about the unemployment money, Murphy said.

Richardson called Dawson around 12:30 p.m., and Richardson’s phone pinged near Dawson’s home before it suddenly stopped all activity, according to Murphy.

After a while, Richardson’s girlfriend began to wonder where he was, and she called Dawson’s house. Dawson’s mother, who lives with Dawson, told her that Richardson’s car was parked in front of the house, but neither he nor Dawson was home, Murphy said.

Dawson returned home that night and allegedly instructed his mother to follow him in her car to a gas station. He climbed into Richardson’s car, and they proceeded to the service station and then headed to an access road next to the Bishop Ford Freeway, said Murphy.

“The victim’s corpse was in the car … but not as a passenger,” Murphy continued.

Darius Dawson set his step-brother’s car on fire in this overgrown area along the Bishop Ford Freeway — with the step-brother’s body in the trunk, prosecutors say. 

Dawson allegedly drove Richardson’s car into an area overgrown with weeds and bushes while his mother did a U-Turn in her car. About seven minutes later, Dawson came out of the bushes and got into his mother’s car. His mom allegedly told investigators that she smelled gasoline on Dawson when he got into her car.

Phone GPS data put Dawson and his mother at the “dump site,” Murphy said. About 20 minutes after they left the area, Chicago Fire Department units responded to a fire in the weeds on the side of the Bishop Ford. According to Murphy, they found Richardson dead in the trunk of his burned-out car with a gunshot wound to the back of his head.

Detectives allegedly found Richardson’s debit card at Dawson’s house

Dawson was on bail for a pending felony gun charge when Richardson died. He stopped showing up for his court dates after Richardson was killed, records show.

Judge Ahmad ordered him held in lieu of $1 million on the concealment of a homicide case. According to court records, he is also being held without bail for violating the terms of bond in the gun case.

Oh, regarding Murphy’s suggestion that Dawson might face more serious charges: That hasn’t happened.

And the Sun-Times never posted a story about charges being filed.

Dawson doesn’t qualify for our list of people accused of shooting, killing, or trying to kill others in Chicago while on felony bail because he is not accused of killing Richardson — only setting his car on fire with his dead body in the trunk.

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