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No bail for Chicago suspect charged with setting homeless man on fire

No bail for Chicago suspect charged with setting homeless man on fire
Joseph Guardia, 27, suspected of setting fire to a sleeping homeless man in Chicago last week, was ordered held without bail by a Cook County, Ill., judge on Monday. Photo courtesy of Chicago Police Department.

May 30 (UPI) -- A judge on Monday ordered a suspect charged with attempted first degree murder for allegedly setting a homeless man on fire in downtown Chicago to be held without bail.

Cook County, Ill., Circuit Judge Charles Beach ordered 27-year-old Joseph Guardia to remain in jail after police accused him of pouring gasoline on an elderly homeless person known to many in Chicago as "The Walking Man" while he was asleep and igniting the fire that severely injured him last week.

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"The offenses charged here today... are exceptionally brutal and heinous," Beach said, according the Chicago Sun-Times. "The random and callous nature of your attack is horrifying."

"It takes a special kind of evil to do what the defendant did," Cook County prosecutor Danny Hanichak said. "He lit him on fire because he said he's an 'angry person.'"

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Police told the court that Guardia admitted he "is an angry person and decided he was going to set something on fire," but that he denied knowing it was a person he had set alight.

According to court documents, surveillance video showed the victim, 75-year-old Joseph Kromelis, thrashing and trying to put the fire out on Wednesday while Guardia ran to board a Chicago Transit Authority train, WMAQ-TV reported.

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Officers tracked Guardia across town using surveillance video. Guardia, who has a face tattoo, was wearing the same white hoodie when he was arrested Friday, they said.

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Doctors said Kromelis was on fire for three minutes. He remains sedated at a hospital with burns to more than 50% of his body and is not expected to recover.

"This defendant did not target someone he had an argument with, someone who wronged him or someone that he even knew," Hanichak said at the hearing. "This defendant decided to target the most vulnerable person possible, a 75-year-old homeless man sleeping on the street."

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