A Cook County judge on Saturday denied bail to an Evanston man accused of fatally stabbing a business owner during what prosecutors described as a “crime spree” in a West Ridge building complex in May.
Brandon Sanders, 33, faces a first-degree murder charge, as well as armed robbery and residential burglary charges. Sanders is accused of May 12 slaying Rasim Katanic atop a large building along the sprawling “Little India” shopping district in the 2300 block of West Devon Avenue.
Authorities said Sanders then took a screwdriver from the dying man and used it to burglarize the apartment of two Loyola University students who were away at their own graduation.
During a felony bail hearing broadcast on YouTube, prosecutors described how they believe that Sanders walked through a Devon business’ private employee area to gain access to a large apartment building where Katanic was working.
Katanic, 69, the owner of K & R Heating & Cooling, according to public records, was working on a walk-in cooler compressor on roof of a restaurant when he was killed, Assistant State’s Attorney Kathryn Morrissey told the court.
After stabbing Katanic in the neck and head, authorities said that Sanders stole the victim’s wallet, keys and a screwdriver that he used to unscrew and remove a skylight to an adjacent apartment building, Morrissey said.
After forcing his way inside the Loyola graduates’ apartment, authorities said Sanders shaved in the bathroom, discarded his own clothing and took new clothing, along with three watches before leaving.
The students returned home the next morning to find personal items that belonged to Katanic, including his wallet and ID cards. Authorities later recovered a water jug left behind in the apartment that was later tested against a buccal swab taken from Sanders. A preliminary tests by Illinois state police found a profile consistent with Sanders’ DNA profile, Morrissey said.
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Surveillance captured Sanders leaving the apartment wearing clothing that he’d taken from the burglarized apartment, authorities said. Katanic’s screwdriver was also left on the building’s mailbox.
The motive for the killing was unclear, but throughout the hearing prosecutors noted Sanders’ unstable behavior on the day of the slaying.
After the slaying and burglary, prosecutors said Sanders walked to a nearby furniture store where he once worked and where a relative continued to work. While at the business, Sanders told its owner that they didn’t have to pay rent anymore because his landlord was “on the roof dead and that he took care of that,” Morrissey said. It wasn’t immediately clear whether Katanic was indeed a landlord of the business.
Authorities also mentioned an incident two hours prior to the homicide, where Sanders entered a nearby bank and called the FBI’s national threat operation center to report “a plot to overthrow the government,” providing his name and address, according to Morrissey.
Sanders’ court-appointed attorney noted her client’s possible mental health issues and fought against prosecutor’s petition to deny bail, claiming that no video evidence tied Sander’s directly to Katanic’s killing.
But Judge Ankur Srivastava granted the state’s petition to deny bail and ordered Sanders to return to court later this month.