Dozens of Chicago gun offenders may be released Tuesday - KMSP-TV

Dozens of Chicago gun offenders may be released from jail Tuesday

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

FOX 32 News has learned that about 20 jailed defendants awaiting trial for illegal gun possession could go free as soon as Tuesday.

The State Supreme Court last week ruled that the law under which they were charged is unconstitutional. Cook County prosecutors tell FOX 32 News they'll go to court Tuesday morning to dismiss those cases.

One defendant with an otherwise completely clean record has been locked up for 14 months, waiting for his trial. There won't be a trial now, because the High Court's ruling means the gun possession crime he's accused of is officially not a crime at all.

Edward Hambrick has already spent more time behind bars at the Cook County Jail than some who've been convicted of violent crimes. His case began 26 months ago, when he said he left Pierre, South Dakota, where he'd been working as a computer programmer, to return to his native Englewood for a 20th high school class reunion.

Hambrick was staying at his mother's house. Law enforcement sources told FOX 32 News it's on a block controlled by a faction of the Black P Stone street gang. While his South Dakota license plates might have drawn attention, Chicago police said they stopped Hambrick on 79th Street because he wasn't using his truck's seat belt. That's when an officer found his loaded, .45 caliber Taurus handgun and two magazines with 10 rounds each.

"'Whose gun is that in the car?' I said, ‘It's mine.' He said, ‘Well, why do you have a gun?' I said, ‘For the same reason you have a gun, to protect myself,'" Hambrick says, describing his conversation with the cop.

Hambrick said he showed the police his Illinois Firearm Owner's ID card, as well as a concealed carry permit valid in South Dakota. Precisely because he'd grown up on the bloody streets of Englewood, he said, he felt he needed a gun to protect himself. Hambrick, who said he once belonged to the National Rifle Association, admits he became belligerent as he then addressed the alleged shortcomings of Chicago's gun laws.

"He said, ‘Well, Chicago has this ordinance that bans guns and you can't have a loaded weapon, blah, blah, blah,'" Hambrick recalls. "I said, ‘Officer, did you take an oath to the constitution?' He said, ‘Yes. We all did.' ‘So, right now you're violating your oath and you're violating my rights.' They subsequently ignored all that and arrested me for Aggravated UUW."

It's that charge, aggravated unauthorized use of a weapon for personal possession, that the State Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional last week. That's why a spokeswoman said State's Attorney Anita Alvarez will send assistant prosecutors into courtrooms Tuesday asking to dismiss AUUW charges against about 80 defendants, including 20 or so like Hambrick who couldn't bond out and are in County Jail.

The 40-year old Hambrick said he wouldn't plead guilty even to a lesser charge because it would instantly end his career in information technology.

"I was getting contract jobs with the federal government making anywhere from $25 to $50 an hour," Hambrick says. "If I had that kind of conviction, they wouldn't look over my resume."

When he is released, Hambrick says he plans to hug his children, then move to Houston. He said the talk in Cook County Jail is that's the place to find a job.

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