Metro-East News

Chester man pleads not guilty in death of police officer

Jason M. Stoker
Jason M. Stoker

A Chester man charged with first-degree murder in the death of a Chester police officer pleaded not guilty to his charges Monday during a hearing in Randolph County Circuit Court.

Jason M. Stoker, 34, entered the plea at the end of a preliminary hearing after Judge Richard Brown found there was probable cause to carry the case over for trial. Stoker is charged in the death of James Brockmeyer, who died on Oct. 28 as the result of injuries he sustained in a crash while pursuing Stoker. Stoker has been charged with first-degree murder, reckless homicide and three counts of aggravated fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer. He is being held in the Randolph County Jail on $750,000 bond.

The County Journal reported that Illinois State Police agent Farrin Melton testified during Monday’s hearing and provided more details on what led up to the crash. Melton testified that Randolph County Sheriff’s deputy Noah Wunderlich was also involved in the chase. Melton said Wunderlich, after hearing radio traffic about the pursuit, had parked his vehicle in the northbound lane of Palestine Road in an attempt to stop Stoker, but he went around the road block.

Melton said Wunderlich tried to pull his vehicle around into a field access near where he was parked and attempted to back up on to the road to continue the chase, according to the County Journal. As Wunderlich was backing up, he stopped when he saw the lights of Brockmeyer’s vehicle. Melton said Brockmeyer’s vehicle went off the other side of the road, crossing through the southbound lane where Wunderlich was parked. Brockmeyer’s vehicle hit an embankment and flipped.

Wunderlich stopped to help Brockmeyer rather than continue the pursuit. Melton testified that he did not interview Wunderlich, but had read reports Wunderlich filed after the crash.

Melton said police suspected Stoker was driving without a valid license. Melton said Stoker was involved in an investigation of methamphetamine production and distribution. Melton testified that Stoker and Brockmeyer reached speeds of upwards of 114 mph during the chase.

Melton testified that there was no video or dash camera footage of the accident, and the Illinois State Police have yet to complete an accident reconstruction.

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.

Stoker is next due in court on Jan. 5 for a case management conference.