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Person of interest held in slaying of judge, wounding of girlfriend

Cook County Associate Judge Raymond Myles.

Chicago police were holding a person of interest for questioning Thursday in the fatal shooting of a longtime Cook County judge and wounding of his girlfriend outside the judge’s Far South Side residence earlier this month.

But detectives have been unable to interview the man after he complained of a health problem and was hospitalized, police said.

"We went to go to take him into custody for questioning," said Anthony Guglielmi, a police spokesman. "Then during that process he stated he had a medical issue."

The possible break in the investigation came two weeks after authorities charged Joshua T. Smith in the attack on Associate Judge Raymond Myles and his girlfriend shortly before dawn on April 10, identifying him as the getaway driver

Police are also investigating the possible involvement of a third participant in the plot, sources have previously said.

The Tribune has reported that police are investigating if the judge’s girlfriend was targeted in the attack for personal reasons. Smith is related to a former husband of the judge’s girlfriend. She ended that marriage two years ago after discovering he might be a bigamist, and he later secured an emergency order of protection against her after alleging she had threatened to shoot him, court records show.

During Smith’s April 13 bond hearing, prosecutors disclosed that the killing of Myles, 66, a judge since 1999, had been hatched weeks earlier as a plot to rob his girlfriend, not to target the judge.

Prosecutors said the gunman had been tracking the movements of Myles’ girlfriend for two to three weeks to learn her schedule. In a videotaped statement to detectives, Smith said his partner laid in wait for the girlfriend before 5 a.m. April 10 after observing she regularly left the judge’s home in the West Chesterfield neighborhood to work out early in the morning, according to prosecutors.

The gunman surprised the woman by the back garage of the two-story brick residence, shooting her in the left thigh, prosecutors said.

Apparently hearing the gunfire, Myles emerged onto the rear porch and confronted the gunman. He was shot five times and killed. The girlfriend, 52, survived.

Smith, who said he stayed in the getaway car in the alley behind the judge’s house, told detectives he heard gunshots, then picked up the gunman and drove off. The gunman fled with only the woman’s gym bag but tossed it away in anger when he discovered it contained no money, prosecutors said.

The gunman had been led to believe the judge’s girlfriend might be carrying as much as $3,000 in cash, according to the sources.

The woman’s purse was left behind at the crime scene with a gun inside it, according to law enforcement sources.

Smith, 37, was ordered held without bond. He faces felony charges of first-degree murder and aggravated battery as well as a misdemeanor count of obstruction of a peace officer for allegedly instructing his ex-girlfriend and her daughter to lie to police for him. Police have said the ex-girlfriend owned the getaway car but did not know about the robbery plot.

Court records show that the judge’s girlfriend had her marriage declared invalid in February 2015 after receiving information leading her to believe her husband, then 72, had been married to another woman when the two wed in Markham nearly 11 years earlier.

According to a transcript of court proceedings in February 2015, the judge’s girlfriend testified she had only recently learned of her husband’s alleged bigamous relationship when the other woman died.

Later, in August 2015, as part of the divorce case, the ex-husband obtained an emergency order of protection after alleging in court that his former wife had cursed at him and threatened to shoot him.

"I am afraid that she will do what she says because she is in need of (a) mental evaluation," the ex-husband submitted in his handwritten petition, records show.

On Aug. 17, 2015, a judge ordered the former wife to stay away from the ex-husband’s residence. About two weeks later, the order of protection was extended to Sept. 23, 2015, but it was vacated on that date when her former husband failed to appear in court.

The brazen attack on Myles, believed to be the first fatal shooting of a Chicago-area judge in more than three decades, touched off a massive investigation. Myles had worked for years at the Leighton Criminal Court Building, the county’s main criminal courthouse, winning respect as hardworking and friendly.

Melissa Staples, the Police Department’s chief of detectives, has said video surveillance in the area of the judge’s home played a crucial role in identifying the getaway car and its license plate. The cameras did not capture the shooting itself, however, she said.

Twitter @JeremyGorner