Jury convicts man of killing 80-year-old father of 11

News-DemocratJanuary 11, 2014 

A jury found a 50-year-old man guilty of killing an 80-year-old East St. Louis man in his Gray Boulevard home where he sold cigarettes.

Dennis Edwards of East St. Louis faces up to a 100-year prison sentence on the murder conviction based on the finding that the victim, Spencer Brewer, was older than 60. Brewer was at home on March 29, 2009, when Edwards killed him.

Police believe robbery was the motive.

Brewer was known to sell single cigarettes and packs from his car and front door but never let anyone in his house, police said. He had bars on his door and when a customer came to his house he would open the door and make the sale, police have said.

Brewer, who was shot in the chest, was the father of 11 children.

St. Clair County jurors deliberated two and a half hours Thursday afternoon before finding Edwards guilty.

Edwards was previously convicted of unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon and he served 10 years in prison for that offense.

"Edwards and two of his nephews were involved in the killing of Brewer," Police Chief Michael Floore said. The nephews already pleaded guilty and they testified in court against Edwards.

Floore said East St. Louis police were not aware that Brewer was selling cigarettes out of his home.

"I hope this gives the Brewer family some closure," Floore said. "We want them to know we, East St. Louis Police and Illinois State Police, worked hard to bring the responsible people to justice. Also, the St. Clair County State's Attorney's office worked diligently to get the guilty conviction. We also thank them for their hard work."

The case was prosecuted by Steve Sallerson, the criminal division chief with the St. Clair County State's Attorney's office, and Assistant State's Attorney Laura Reppert from the violent crimes unit.

St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly thanked the jurors and the more than 100 potential jurors who reported for work in the past week dispite the subzero temperatures and a snowstorm.

"The judges, prosecutors and public defenders were all impressed by the jurors who showed for jury duty despite the weather. It's good to know that so many people still take their civic duties so seriously," Kelly said.

Contact reporter Carolyn P. Smith at 618-239-2503.

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