Stock trader tried for the murder of his best friend
Michael Pelko was a stock trader and suburban dad, and during his off-peak hours he coached a little league, allegedly sold drugs, and one day two years ago killed his best friend over unpaid debt, Prosecutors said Monday as Pelko’s trial opened for the murder of Izat Morrar in 2017.
Pelko and Morrar had been friends since childhood, and Morrar worked just around the corner from Pelko’s office at the Chicago Board of Trade. On the afternoon of July 20, 2017, Morrar boarded Pelko’s silver SUV outside the CBOT. Hours later, his body was found in an alleyway on the 5300 block of South Calumet Avenue, twice hit in the head, his pockets emptied and his shoes removed.
A search of Morrar’s office a few days later uncovered a shoebox with $ 27,450 in cash in a drawer in his desk and a coded ledger book with an additional $ 1,400 inside. Detectives found half a pound of marijuana in the suspended ceiling of Pelko’s house in Willow Springs, and tests showed traces of Morrar’s blood in the cushions of Pelko’s SUV. Pelko was not charged until January.
In opening statements on Monday, Pelko’s attorneys noted that Pelko did indeed have his share of problems, but suggested he was a small player in the drug trade that his childhood friend, Morrar, was engaged in. .
“Like many of us, Mr. Pelko had demons… Mr. Pelko had developed a drug habit. Occasionally he sold marijuana to members of the Chicago Board of Trade, ”attorney Vadim Glozman told jurors. “Sir. Pelko got to know and socialize with people he thought were dangerous. What the evidence will show is that (Morrar) was associated with the same dangerous people… the evidence will show that Izat Morrar was a trafficker drug heavily involved.
Surveillance cameras showed Morrar getting into Pelko’s car in downtown Clark Street and, hours later, the same silver SUV in the alley where Morrar’s body was found. Morrar had complained that Pelko owed him money around the time he was killed. But there is no video or witness of Morrar being shot.
On the day Morrar was killed, Pelko was at home with his family, helping his children run a lemonade stand, Glozman said. And Morrar had left home in Pelko’s SUV with a third friend, and Pelko didn’t leave the house until a few hours later, for a pizza night for his kids’ baseball team.
Morrar’s girlfriend, Melanie Cruz, testified that she and Morrar were constantly texting each other and each of them could track each other’s movements using their phones. The day Morrar went missing, Cruz said he just stopped texting and the tracker app said his location was “unavailable” meaning the phone was out of battery or turned off. .
Cruz and Morrar were looking to buy a house, but, Glozman noted, Morrar never mentioned the wads of money he had hidden in his office.
“There was a part of Izat’s life that you didn’t know anything about, correct?” Glozman asked Cruz.
“No, that’s not true,” said Cruz.
“Izat never told you he kept a shoebox full of money?” Glozman asked.
“If he was trying to surprise me with a ring, I don’t think it was something he would say to me,” she replied.