Woman gets 27 years for fatally stabbing Uber driver
A 19-year-old Chicago woman was sentenced to 27 years in prison this week for hacking an Uber driver to death with a stolen knife and machete in an unprovoked attack in north suburban Lincolnwood.
Eliza Wasni, who was 16 when she killed Grant Nelson, pleaded guilty to murder on Monday and was sentenced by
Cook County Judge Timothy Chambers at the Skokie Courthouse, court records show.
Wasni, a former Taft High School student, had been charged as an adult for the 2017 crime.
When she first appeared in court following her arrest three years ago, Judge Michael J. Hood called Wasni’s actions a “random act of violence.”
Before dawn on May 30, 2017, Wasni walked out of a 24-hour Walmart in Skokie with the weapons she shoplifted, called an Uber and was picked up by 34-year-old Nelson in his Hyundai Sonata, prosecutors said.
Within two minutes, the teen began attacking Nelson as the car approached the intersection of Touhy and Lincoln avenues, stabbing him repeatedly on the side of his arm, torso, head and chest, prosecutors said.
Nelson, of Wilmette, pulled up to a condo building in the 7200 block of Touhy Avenue, ran to the lobby and slammed on the door screaming for help. Responding officers followed a trail of blood and found him on the grass on the side of the building.
Wasni took Nelson’s car and drove it back toward Lincoln and Touhy avenues before she hit a median and fled the vehicle. Officers found Nelson’s phone in the car’s front seat and saw that Wasni was listed as his Uber passenger, prosecutors said.
Officers later spotted Wasni hiding behind a nearby office building in a blood-spattered Cubs shirt holding the bloody knife and machete.
Nelson, who a friend described as “the type to give you the shirt off his back,” was able to tell police his passenger had stabbed him before he died that morning at St. Francis Hospital in Evanston.
They’re out of Illinois’ “penalty box” for now, but the bad sports betting blood remains.
Thanks to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s latest coronavirus disaster proclamation, online sportsbook giant DraftKings maneuvered its way around a hurdle in state gambling law to enter the rookie Illinois sports betting market last weekend — and the CEO of the company didn’t hold back in his assessment of the casino interests that fought to keep them locked out.
“Feels so good to be taking mobile registrations in Illinois,” DraftKings co-founder Jason Robins said in a since-deleted Monday tweet. “Especially after the corrupt idiots at Rush Street Gaming tried to block us in the state. Over the long run, good policy always wins.”
A spokesman for Rush Street — billionaire Rivers Casino Chairman Neil Bluhm’s gaming company — fired back by noting “Rush Street has never been asked to leave a state, pays taxes on every wager, and has not been named in multiple consumer class action suits,” referring to DraftKings’ past legal issues in some markets.
The war of wagering words shows there’s been no love lost between the online-only operators and their brick-and-mortar casino nemeses since Illinois’ gambling power players introduced legal sports betting to the state with the massive gambling expansion signed into law by Pritzker last summer.
Key to those Springfield negotiations was inclusion of the so-called “penalty box” period for online giants such as DraftKings and FanDuel, meaning they’re barred from applying for $20 million sports wagering licenses until 18 months after the casinos nab their licenses at a fraction of the cost.
Rush Street lobbyists were among the gambling interests who insisted on that provision to give the casinos a head start in the Illinois sports betting market — and to punish the online companies that operated for years in the legal gray area of daily fantasy sports. Former Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan concluded in 2015 that the online wagering firms constituted an illegal gambling operation.
As a result, the Illinois law was written to allow casinos to offer mobile betting applications — by far the industry’s most profitable platform — but it requires gamblers to register for their accounts in-person at the casinos.
So DraftKings was on the sidelines when Rivers launched the state’s first retail sportsbook at the Des Plaines casino March 9.
But with the casinos shut down due to COVID-19, Pritzker issued an executive order suspending the in-person sports betting registration requirement, which allowed Rivers to launch its mobile platform June 18.
Meanwhile, DraftKings had negotiated its path out of the penalty box by striking a cobranding agreement with the Casino Queen in downstate East St. Louis.
And just as they were poised to take advantage of the executive order, Illinois casinos reopened with Phase 4, and the Democratic governor let the in-person suspension expire in his updated July 24 disaster proclamation — meaning gamblers would have to drive to the Casino Queen to open a DraftKings account.
But as the virus has rebounded, Pritzker suspended the registration rule again in his latest proclamation, which went into effect Aug. 21.
That means bettors statewide can register for DraftKings on their phone until at least Sept. 19, when Pritzker’s proclamation expires.
In his Monday Twitter barb, Robins, the DraftKings CEO, applauded Pritzker “for doing what’s right for the citizens of Illinois.”