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Prosecutor: Teens killed man in ‘knock ‘em down’ game

Nicholas Ayal(left) Anthony Malcolm are among three teens charged with killing 62-year-old man West Rogers Park.

Nicholas Ayala (left) and Anthony Malcolm are among three teens charged with killing a 62-year-old man in West Rogers Park.

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Updated: August 18, 2012 6:22AM

Three teenagers accused of killing a 62-year-old father-of-12 in West Rogers Park were playing a game called “Pick ‘em out and knock ‘em down” when they videotaped themselves punching him in the face, prosecutors say.

Malik Jones, 16, Nicholas Ayala, 17, and Anthony Malcolm, 18, were caught after the video of Jones fatally punching Delfino Mora was posted on Jones’ Facebook page, according to authorities.

The three were playing a “game where the offender picks an innocent victim and knocks him out by striking him and likely robbing him as well,” Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Terry Clancy told Judge Israel Desierto in court Monday.

Similar attacks — some resulting in death — have previously been reported in Missouri, New Jersey and Decatur. The game also goes by the name “Knockout King,” and experts say it is a grab for attention.

Prosecutors did not mention the game Sunday when Jones appeared before a judge on first degree murder charges in the most recent case, but gave a more detailed account of the crime when his two alleged accomplices made their first appearance in court Monday.

They allege Jones struck the fatal blow and owns the cell phone used to film Mora’s murder in the alley on the 6300 block of North Artesian early July 10.

Jones spotted Mora, a salvager who was collecting empty pop cans, and told the others, “I think I’m going to knock this m----------- out,” Clancy said.

She said Jones then handed Ayala his cell phone, and Ayala passed it on to Malcolm, who recorded Jones as he approached Mora.

The prosecutor said Jones punched Mora in the jaw after asking him, “You got any money in your pockets?”

When Mora collapsed, Malcolm continued to film the incident, then all three teens ran away, she said.

Jones and Ayala then returned to the alley, where Jones stole $60 from Mora’s wallet and gave Ayala $20, according to the prosecutor, who said all three defendants left the area “laughing about victimizing the old man.”

Minutes later, they allegedly took $1 by force from a second victim, a 64-year-old man.

Mora was found at the scene three hours later, with blood coming from a nostril and vomit next to his head. He was declared dead the next day at St. Francis Hospital.

After the video of the incident was posted to Facebook, it was spotted by a witness who prosecutors said had been attacked by Jones on June 30.

One of Mora’s sons also saw the video, and when police arrested Jones on Saturday, Jones had in his possession the cell phone used to make the video, Clancy said. Ayala and Malcolm can both be heard speaking on it, she added.

According to police reports, Jones and Ayala are both members of the Latin Kings street gang. All three teens have been charged as adults with first-degree murder and are being held without bail. They’ve all confessed, prosecutors say.

But Jones’ father, Terry Jones, said Monday that his son didn’t realize that the blow he was struck was fatal.

“He was only trying to knock him out,” he said, adding that his son’s troubles dated to his joining the gang and time he spent in juvenile detention in DuPage County.

The incident bore close similarities to an attack on a homeless man knocked unconscious at the Chicago Avenue CTA Red Line station in April last year. Scotty Strahan, 18, turned himself in to police in November and was charged with two counts of aggravated battery after a cell phone video clip of the attack posted on went viral.

“We know that juveniles don’t think out consequences clearly,” Beth Huebner, an associate professor of criminology at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, told the Associated Press after a 72-year-old Vietnamese immigrant was killed in another “Knock ‘em out” case in St. Louis last year.

“They see something on YouTube and say, ‘I want to get that sort of attention, too.’ They don’t think about the person they’re attacking maybe hitting their head.”

Mora’s family is collecting funds to send his remains to Mexico. Donations can be made to Chase Bank account number 3038964317 in the name of Valentin Mora.

Contributing: Jim Salter, AP

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