Man held mistakenly is dropped as suspect

By Eric Ferkenhoff
Tribune staff reporter

June 9, 2002

   A man who was locked up for 29 days before murder charges against him were dropped is no longer considered a suspect in that slaying, according to police who have acknowledged for the first time that the man's picture was mistakenly picked out of a photo lineup.

   The announcement Friday by Chief of Detectives Phil Cline, comes two weeks after Nicholas Mobley was released from Cook County Jail, where he had spent nearly a month on charges of first degree murder for the April 13 shooting death of Shakir Beckley.

   "Our investigation at this time is we feel that Mr. Mobley was not involved in this case," Cline said.

   Instead, police said they now believe Mobley, 23, was mistaken for another man, whom police are seeking for questioning, Cline said.

   "This is a person who looks like Mr. Mobley," Cline said. "He has an association with the people who have been charged, and our investigation is still continuing." Three other people have been charged in the murder.

   Prosecutors have said four men approached Beckley and two others in a parked truck and demanded money and cell phones.

   Beckley, 23, was shot in the head, and Vernard Davis, 21, was wounded in the abdomen, police said.

   In the days after Beckley's murder, Mobley's mug shot was randomly picked out to use alongside photos of possible suspects in Beckley's death.

   "Witnesses identified him, his picture," Cline said. "He was later placed in a lineup, and five individuals identified him as the person they saw out there with a rifle that night."

   "The state's attorneys and the detectives were faced with five people identifying him, and [Mobley] not giving us an alibi," Cline said.

   "And that's why he was charged."

   In an interview Friday, Mobley said he was held for two days before detectives interviewed him, and that investigators told him they weren't interested in hearing his story if he was going to claim he wasn't at the scene of the shooting.

   Mobley filed a federal lawsuit last month, alleging detectives conspired to frame him.

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