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Judge sentences hit man for Chicago gang to life in prison

By The Associated Press
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CHICAGO (AP) — A hit man for a Chicago street gang was sentenced to life in prison on Friday, with the judge saying witnesses who testified against the Hobos enforcer during one of the city's biggest gang cases in years no longer have to worry he might one day come after them.

Paris Poe, 37, killed two government witnesses planning to testify against the gang, U.S. District Judge John Tharp said. The judge noted how Poe in 2013 stood over one of the men, Keith Daniels, and shot him 25 times as his two small stepchildren screamed nearby.

The killings were meant to send a warning to potential witnesses, and it worked, Tharp said. One witness during the trial said he'd rather go to jail than testify. Others, Tharp said, seemed to lie to jurors to not incur the gang's wrath.

The trial involved six members of the Hobos, which operated on Chicago's South Side. All were convicted on various charges, including racketeering conspiracy, which alleges a pattern of organized criminality and is often used against mobsters.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Derek Owens said Poe worked to distinguish himself and would brag after killing someone.

"It's one thing to be a cold-blooded killer, but Paris Poe had a deranged sense of pride ... in exacting ruthless, violent revenge," the prosecutor told the judge before Poe was sentenced.

Jurors convicted all six defendants in a racketeering conspiracy at trial, which included allegations of at least half a dozen killings and numerous robberies. One robbery Poe carried out was of then-NBA player Bobby Simmons, taking the basketball player's $200,000 gold chain at gun-point outside a nightclub.

Before announcing the sentence, Tharp asked Poe if he would be making a statement. Poe stood and said only, "I will not, sir."

Poe was convicted in January of murder in aid of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy and obstruction of justice. Prosecutors asked for three life sentences, to run consecutively, to ensure Poe would remain in prison even if one or two charges were tossed on appeal.

But the judge ordered Poe to serve three life sentences simultaneously, saying: "Life is life."

Poe showed little emotion during the hearing, though he appeared upset was when the judge said Poe didn't have a close relationship with any of his seven children.

Poe's attorneys said he had a difficult upbringing in poverty, and that a life sentence with no chance of ever getting out didn't recognize that people can change.

"At 80 years old, Mr. Poe is not going to be a danger to anyone," defense attorney Patrick Blegen told the judge. "There is no necessity for Mr. Poe to leave (prison) in a box."

Tharp said there was no indication Poe would ever change.

"Mr. Poe is," the judge said, "undeterrable."

The gang's purported leader, Gregory "Bowlegs" Chester, was sentenced to 40 years in prison on Thursday for racketeering conspiracy.

Also sentenced Friday to life prison sentences were Arnold Council and Gabriel Bush. Prosecutors said Council participated in four slayings for the gang and Bush killed five people.

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