NU doctoral graduate pleads not guilty to attempted murder in connection with CTA pushing

Erica Snow , Campus Editor

Northwestern doctoral graduate Chad Estep pleaded not guilty Monday to four counts, including attempted first-degree murder, after allegedly pushing a Chicago man onto CTA tracks in August.

Estep was charged Oct. 9 with attempted first-degree murder and aggravated battery in a public place. Additionally, Estep pleaded not guilty to aggravated battery against a transit employee and unlawful restraint, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office told The Daily in an email.

Estep entered his plea at the George N. Leighton Criminal Court Building. The 34-year-old graduated from NU with a doctorate in neuroscience in March.

At a preliminary hearing Oct. 16, witness Ben Benedict alleged that on Aug. 1 at around 11:30 p.m., he was waiting alone for a train after leaving a Chicago Cubs game when he felt a push on his lower back. He said that push caused him to fall from the platform and land about “12 to 18 inches” from the electrified third rail.

Benedict testified that he didn’t see who pushed him, but when he turned around after he fell, he noticed Estep.

“He looked down and pointed straight at me,” Benedict said.

Benedict said he and Estep had never met before the incident. Benedict, a Chicago resident, said when he walked to the platform’s edge, Estep made a motion to keep him from climbing back onto the platform.

He added that about two people waiting for another train roughly 20 feet away helped him onto the platform after he yelled for help, telling them, “I think he’s trying to kill me.”

Benedict said that another train came about 30 seconds to a minute after he climbed back on the platform.

University president Morton Schapiro told The Daily in an interview earlier this month that being pushed onto train tracks would be a “nightmare.”

“What I’ve learned, in 18 years as a president, is that something’s going to happen,” Schapiro said, referencing the likelihood of an incident within the large University community. “I mean, some are more horrific than others, and this seemed really horrific.”

Vadim Glozman, an attorney representing Estep, said at the hearing his client “could’ve been there to help” and that no one “physically prevented” Benedict from climbing back onto the platform.

Glozman told The Daily on Monday that he’s hoping for “the best possible outcome for Mr. Estep.”

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