Cellphone Data, Fingerprint on Sprite Bottle Help Lead to Arrest in Cab Driver's Murder, Armed Robbery


Cellphone data, surveillance video and a fingerprint on a bottle of Sprite led authorities to connect a 25-year-old man to the murder of a cab driver and an armed robbery at a Far South Side store last month, according to prosecutors.

Cook County Judge Kelly McCarthy ordered 25-year-old Isaiah Holliday held without bail in both cases during a hearing Thursday at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse.

The Jan. 5 fatal shooting of taxi driver Jeffery Berner was recorded by a private surveillance camera when the cab he was driving stopped in the 600 block of West 95th Street, Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy told the judge.

After stopping about six blocks from a Red Line station where Holliday had asked to be dropped off, the video showed the cab “rocking” from a commotion followed by two gunshots as Berner tried to get out of the cab, Murphy said.

Holliday, who was wearing distinctive Nike shoes and a black jacket with shiny sleeves, was recorded getting out of the rear of the cab and approaching the driver’s side door to twice go through Berner’s pockets before he ran off, Murphy said.

A driver who struck the open driver’s side door of Berners cab called police, who found the 65-year-old unresponsive with two gunshot wounds to his abdomen, officials said. Berner was taken to Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, but later died.

Investigators learned Holliday had ordered the cab to pick him up from a Calumet Park motel, where he had checked into a different motel next door under his own name, Murphy said. A surveillance camera at the hotel allegedly recorded Holliday checking in and later getting into Berner’s cab.

On Jan. 19, Holliday, wearing the same shoes and jacket, walked into a store at the 11000 block of South Michigan Avenue, grabbed a Sprite from a display case and brought it to the clerk at the counter, Murphy said.

When the clerk rang up the drink and opened the register, Holliday held her at gunpoint and stole $300, Murphy said.

Holliday was taken into custody nearby, but was no longer wearing the jacket, Murphy said. Because he was allegedly wearing a mask during the robbery, the clerk was not able to identify him and he was released from custody.

The jacket was later found by investigators, which contained Holliday’s LINK card and cellphone, Murphy said. Data from the cellphone showed Holliday’s movement on the day of the murder and matched with GPS data from Berner’s cab as he drove Holliday to the CTA station, Murphy said.

A fingerprint on the Sprite bottle left on the counter at the store was later matched to Holliday after it was tested at the Illinois State Police crime lab, Murphy said.

Facebook messages Holliday exchanged with another person also showed him talking about the robbery, during which he mentioned he was fine with losing his gun because it “had a body on it anyways,” Murphy said.

Holliday was taken into custody this week and charged with first-degree murder and armed robbery.

Holliday has one prior conviction for a drug charge he pleaded guilty to in 2019, records show.

Holliday lives with his girlfriend and their young son and works for his brother’s record label, an assistant public defender said.

Holliday was expected back in court on both charges Feb. 24.

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