The murder conviction of a Madison County man who told his girlfriend to “look at me while I blow your (expletive) head off” has been upheld by an appeals court.
The 5th District Appellate Court in Mount Vernon upheld the conviction of Brian Pinkas, who in 2012 was convicted of murdering his live-in girlfriend, Sharon Reynolds.
A jury found Pinkas guilty of shooting Reynolds in the face with a sawed-off shotgun at their home in Granite City. He is serving a 45-year prison term.
Pinkas argued he thought the gun was inoperable. In an appeal, he argued that jurors should have been allowed to hear testimony from three defense witnesses who would have said Pinkas had told them the gun didn’t work.
Associate Judge James Hackett didn’t allow the hearsay testimony from the three witnesses, who were all relatives of Pinkas.
The appellate court in its ruling Friday wrote, “Here, the physical and circumstantial evidence presented at trial did not support the defendant’s claim that Sharon’s death was an accident. It rather overwhelmingly supported the jury’s determination that he was guilty of knowing first-degree murder.”
Here, the physical and circumstantial evidence presented at trial did not support the defendant’s claim that Sharon’s death was an accident.
5th District Appellate Court
In closing arguments at trial, prosecutors explained to jurors that to find Pinkas guilty of first-degree murder, the jury was only required to find that when performing the acts that caused Reynolds’ death, he knew that his actions created “a strong probability of death or great bodily harm.” Prosecutors argued that simply pointing a loaded shotgun to someone’s head and pulling the trigger supported a first-degree murder conviction.
Reynolds was shot after she and a friend returned home from a night out on Valentine’s Day, 2004.
The friend told police she was downstairs when she heard Reynolds screaming for help. The friend said she came upstairs and saw Pinkas beating Reynolds with a left fist, and holding a sawed-off 12-gauge shotgun with a pistol grip in his other hand.
The friend said Pinkas told Reynolds “to open her mouth (so that) he could blow her (expletive) head off.” The friend said she screamed, and Pinkas told her to shut her mouth, or she’d be next.
The friend said she fled to a neighboring home, and as she was running, she heard Pinkas yell, “Sharon, look at me while I blow your (expletive) head off.” The friend then heard a gunshot.
Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons on Tuesday said prosecutors “are glad to see that the appellate court agreed with our position that the defendant received a fair trial by a Madison County jury, and that he will have to serve his full prison sentence for the horrible murder he committed.”