A Rock Island man pleaded not guilty Tuesday in connection with the fatal shooting of 23-year-old Ke'Swan T. Simmons in February.

Kaleb Joseph Mallek, 22, appeared at the Rock Island County Justice Center for a short preliminary hearing. He is charged with aggravated battery with a firearm, armed violence and felon in possession of a firearm.

He will be back in court April 10 for a pretrial conference.

The shooting happened around 10 p.m. Feb. 2 at Westwood Terrace, 2200 1st St. A. Police had received several reports of gunshots in the east parking lot of the apartment complex.

Simmons, of Moline, was found dead from a gunshot to the chest in the parking lot. 

According to testimony on Tuesday from Moline Police Detective Michael Griffin:

Police had received a call from Simmons' girlfriend, who said he had been shot and was no longer breathing. The woman told officers that a car that was involved in the shooting drove northbound and ran into a fence.

She told officers that she brought Simmons to the area to buy 4 ounces of marijuana from Mallek. During the transaction, Simmons pulled out a gun and tried to rob Mallek, the woman told police.

She said Mallek then pulled out a gun and shots were fired. Simmons, who was in the backseat of the car, fell out onto the concrete, said, “I’m dead,” and stopped breathing, the woman told police.

The woman was taken to the police station for a formal interview and said Simmons had called her earlier that day looking for marijuana and asked her to call her "guy."

She told officers that she called and texted Mallek that day and provided police with his phone number. She also was able to identify him from a photo lineup.

Mallek was located the next day in Iowa City, where he was being treated for injuries sustained in the incident. He admitted to police that he had gone to Westwood Terrace to sell Simmons 4 ounces of marijuana, Griffin testified.

Griffin, when questioned by defense attorney John Singer, said he thought that both Mallek’s and Simmons’ guns were fired during the incident. He further said marijuana was not found at the scene when officers arrived.

Following Griffin's testimony, Judge Frank Fuhr ruled that there was enough probable cause to bind the case over for trial. A trial date has been tentatively set for May 1. 

Mallek remained in the Rock Island County Jail on a $1 million bond Tuesday. 

He was paroled from the Illinois Department of Corrections in September after serving nearly a year of a four-year sentence for failure to report an accident involving injury. The charge is a felony, which prohibits him from possessing a firearm.

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