Metro-East News

First-degree murder charge filed in Chester officer’s death

Jason M. Stoker
Jason M. Stoker

A Chester man has been charged with first-degree murder in connection with the death of a Chester police officer last month.

The murder charge against Jason M. Stoker, 34, was one of four new counts brought against him by Randolph County State’s Attorney Jeremy Walker on Thursday. Chester police officer James Brockmeyer died from injuries he suffered in a crash after he was pursuing Stoker on Oct. 28. The crash happened around 10 p.m. on Palestine Road in rural Randolph County, about 2 miles north of Chester.

Attempts to reach Walker for comment were not successful on Thursday.

In the information filed in Stoker’s case, Walker wrote that Stoker “drove his vehicle at a high rate of speed along Palestine Road, in rural Chester, while failing or refusing to comply with a lawful order or direction of a peace officer, James Brockmeyer, knowing such acts created a strong possibility of death or great bodily harm to James Brockmeyer, and thereby causing the death of James Brockmeyer.”

Walker also petitioned Judge Gene Gross to increase Stoker’s bail from $250,000. Walker said, in court documents, Stoker failed to turn himself in following the crash.

“On October 29, 2016 (an) investigator from the Illinois State Police had a phone conversation with (Stoker) and advised (him) of the warrant and pending charge,” Walker wrote in a petition to increase bail. “The defendant did not turn himself in.”

Stoker was arrested on Nov. 1 after being found in the St. Louis area. He was held in St. Louis until being extradited to Illinois on Wednesday.

“The defendant’s actions in fleeing this jurisdiction indicate he is not likely to comply with the terms and conditions of bond in this matter and the defendant has already taken flight from this jurisdiction on one occasion,” Walker wrote. “Finally, the additional charges create an increased likelihood of flight from jurisdiction.”

Walker also charged Stoker with three other felonies — two counts of aggravated fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer and reckless homicide.

If convicted of the murder charge, Stoker faces a mandatory prison sentence of between 20 and 60 years. A reckless homicide conviction could place him in prison for between three and 14 years, but he would be eligible for probation. The other three charges against him carry a prison sentence of between one and three years if he is convicted. He would be eligible for probation on those charges.

Stoker is next scheduled to be in court on Monday. According to the Randolph County Circuit Clerk’s website, Stoker is seeking to hire private counsel to represent him. He will tell the court Monday whether he has been able to retain a lawyer. The judge also will make a decision on whether to increase his bail. Stoker was being held Thursday in the Randolph County Jail.

Randolph County Circuit Clerk records show Stoker has no previous felony convictions and four misdemeanor convictions. His last misdemeanor conviction was in a 2015 domestic battery case.

Brockmeyer had been on the Chester police force for only 10 months. A 2012 Chester High School graduate, Brockmeyer previously served as a volunteer firefighter and worked in the city’s Gas Department. His Nov. 3 funeral drew police officers from around the area and included a more than 20-mile procession in and around Chester.