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Man guilty of second-degree murder in artist’s death in Logan Square

The family porttrait Artist Brendan Scanlwho was murdered by Kirk Tobolski. Family showed pho Friday July 22  2011. |

The family porttrait of Artist Brendan Scanlon, who was murdered by Kirk Tobolski. Family showed photo Friday, July 22 , 2011. | John H. White~Sun-Times.

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Updated: October 27, 2011 12:33AM

A Humboldt Park man was found guilty Friday of stabbing a street artist to death during a fight that spilled out of a Logan Square party, but a judge refused to convict the defendant of first-degree murder.

Instead, Judge Thomas Hennelly found Kirk Tobolski, now 27, guilty of second-degree murder for the June 14, 2008 switchblade slaying of Brendan Scanlon, the artist known as SOLVE.

“Mr. Tobolski did stab Mr. Scanlon. He did kill him,” Hennelly told supporters of both men as he announced his verdict. But he said Tobolski acted with “a sudden intense passion when provoked by Mr. Scanlon.”

The judge discounted the testimony of a witness, Joe Depre, Scanlon’s friend and the only one to testify that Tobolski had the switchblade not in his hand but in the pocket of his pants, pants so tight he could see the weapon’s outline.

At the party, Scanlon and another man attacked a guy they knew from a tussle in their apartment months before, and fled to an alley near Lyndale and Palmer streets, prosecutors said. Scanlon and Depre were outnumbered by Tobolski and his “gang” of friends, who chased the pair on bicycles and a moped. Tobolski stabbed Scanlon in the alley as he was being pinned on a old sofa by another man, they said.

Scanlon, a native of Madison, Wis.,had moved to Chicago to go to school and work as a freelance graphic artist. The 24-year-old used his moniker SOLVE on many of the stickers and stencils he designed and left around the city.

Joined by a couple dozen relatives and friends from Madison, Scanlon’s older sister, Caitlin Scanlon, described her baby brother as intensely creative and artistic.

Their father, Bill Scanlon, said he had hoped for a first-degree murder conviction, but said the guilty verdict was some measure of justice.

“We want to say that for us, today is not a happy day,” he read from a statement. “The profound emptiness of Brendan’s absence, the profound evil of his having been taken much too early, are not solved by the conviction.”

Tobolski, of the 2600 block of West Iowa Street, was taken into custody. He faces 4 to 20 years in prison, though he could also get probation when he’s sentenced Sept. 1.

His attorney argued during his trial that no one ever saw him stab Scanlon. Tobolski’s family declined to comment as they left the courthouse.

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