Illinois teenager arrested in Uber slaying could face more charges

By Julia Jacobs

SKOKIE, Ill. (Reuters) - An Illinois teenager arrested for fatally stabbing an Uber [UBER.UL] driver may face additional criminal charges for her violent behavior while detained, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Eliza Wasni, 16, who was charged in June with murdering Grant Nelson, has been involved in 40 reported incidents at the Chicago juvenile detention facility where she is being held, Diann Sheridan, a lawyer with the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, said during a court hearing.

The incidents, including kicking and pushing detention center guards as well as one alleged instance of biting a guard, were acts of "destructive and potentially criminal behavior," Sheridan said.

Wasni's public defender, David McMahon, said his client is faced with "excessive" restrictions while held in her cell.

"She's doing her best at this point to comply," he said.

Nelson, 34, was killed early on May 30 after picking up Wasni outside a Wal-Mart Stores Inc location in Skokie, Illinois, a northern suburb of Chicago.

Wasni, a high school student, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and other charges last week.

After shoplifting a machete and knife from the store, Wasni called an Uber and Nelson drove to pick her up, according to court documents.

Two minutes into the ride, she attacked Nelson from behind, authorities said.

Nelson was able to exit the car and made his way to a nearby condominium building where he called for help, local media reported. Nelson later died.

Wasni fled in Nelson's car before crashing and fleeing on foot. She was then apprehended by police.

Judge Lauren Edidin said she had no jurisdiction over detention center rules but asked Wasni, who is being held without bail, to improve her behavior.

Wasni, who appeared at the Second Municipal District Skokie Courthouse wearing a brown sweatshirt and black sweatpants, responded that she would.

Sheridan told reporters the state has not yet succeeded in gaining access to Wasni's cell phone.

Nelson's family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Wal-Mart seeking unspecified financial damages for failing to stop Wasni from stealing.

Wal-Mart has said it would respond "appropriately" with the court, "but we can say that we believe our associates acted properly, including alerting third-party security to a possible shoplifting incident."

Wasni's next court appearance is scheduled for Aug. 14.



(Writing and additional reporting by Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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