Longtime St. Clair County prosecutor Joe Christ died Sunday, a little more than a week after being sworn in as an associate judge. He was 49.
The cause of his death were not immediately available.
"He was a quality person, a husband, a father, involved in his community and committed to his job," St. Clair County Chief Circuit Judge John Baricevic said. "He was one of the good guys."
As a prosecutor, Christ was always prepared, Baricevic said.
"As an office family, we are devastated," said State's Attorney Brendan Kelly. "Over 18 years, Joe fought for the people. He prosecuted thousands of cases and helped so many families achieve some measure of justice and peace.
"Everyone in the courthouse prays for Joe's family, and so will the thousands of others who were touched by Joe and who are grateful for his time here on Earth."
Memorials in Christ's name can be made to the Christ Children Education Fund at Carrollton Bank, 1911 Frank Scott Parkway Suite 4, OFallon, Ill. 62269 or by calling 624-3034.
Memorial Masses may be offered at St. Francis De Sales 2653 Ohio Ave, St. Louis, MO 63118.
Visitation will be 3:30-8 p.m. Thursday at Meyer Funeral Home in Lebanon, and 10-10:45 a.m. Friday at St. Francis De Sales Catholic Church, 2653 Ohio Ave, St. Louis. The funeral mass will be 11 a.m. Friday at St. Francis De Sales.
Christ was sworn-in as an associate judge just 10 days ago.
"We were so pleased. He hit the ground running," Baricevic said. "I know that he would have had a great career as a judge."
Christ prosecuted convicted murderer Jason Smith, who was found guilty of the shotgun deaths of his girlfriend, her infant son and two others in Belleville.
Christ also assisted in the investigation and eventual prosecution of former Freeburg High School teacher and coach Sam Shelton, who pleaded guilty to assaulting a teenager and leaving her for dead in the woods.
Christ was a St. Clair County prosecutor for nearly 18 years. He graduated in 1986 from Illinois State University and received his law degree from Cooley Law School in Lansing, Mich. He was married and the father of six.
Christ was elected by the circuit judges to fill one of the three associate judge positions created when Associate Judges Andrew Gleeson, Vince Lopinot and Zina Cruse were elected as circuit judges. Christ was joined by Belleville attorney Chris Kolker and Julie Gomric to fill the associate judge spots.
Contact reporter Beth Hundsdorfer at email@example.com or 239-2570.