Murder or accident? Trial begins for man charged in fatal Aurora crash

  • Chuckie Chatman

    Chuckie Chatman

Updated 8/2/2022 7:12 PM

Ernest Hardy died after a car crash in October 2020 in Aurora, when bullets struck the SUV he was driving, causing it to veer out of control and hit a tree.

But he was not murdered, the attorney for defendant Chuckie Chatman said during opening arguments Monday at Chatman's trial.


Chatman, 32, of Montgomery, is charged with first-degree murder, aggravated discharge of a weapon and the reckless homicide of Hardy, 39, of Aurora. Authorities say the bullets were fired from Chatman's car.

"You will not hear that Chuckie was driving his car. Or how many people were in that car," said Chatman's attorney, Ron Dolak, said.

Kane County Assistant State's Attorney Bill Engerman, however, said Chatman "set into motion a chain reaction of events, all at his doing, that resulted in the death of another individual."

Engerman told the jury that Chatman was jealous of Hardy, who was dating the mother of Chatman's two children. Chatman had dated the woman for two years. That night, he saw a photo of the woman, Hardy and some of Hardy's friends at the woman's home, and sent her a text threatening her, Engerman said.

by signing up you agree to our terms of service

The woman saw Chatman in bushes outside her home, called Hardy and left with him.

Authorities believe Chatman followed them to a shopping center parking lot, then on to Redwood Drive. Four bullets then struck Hardy's SUV. One of them hit a tire, flattening it, Engerman said.

The car skidded sideways, hit a parked car and bounced into a tree.

Hardy suffered a broken neck and bleeding on the brain. He died five days later.

The trial continued Tuesday morning, with an Aurora police officer testifying about the bullet holes to Hardy's vehicle. One bullet went through the rear window, lodging in the headlight on the driver's side. Another struck a taillight, and one hit the left side of the rear bumper.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.