Metro-East News

Duebbert had frequent, hourslong visits with inmate at state prison, records show

In the weeks before David E. Fields was released from Graham Correctional Center, he asked whether he could be paroled to the house of Ron Duebbert, who was vying to become a judge in the 20th Judicial Circuit.

The request was denied because Duebbert had guns in the home and was not willing to get rid of them, according to an Illinois Department of Corrections parole-violation report.

But Fields, 20, ended up residing at Duebbert’s home anyway — and parole agents were fully aware of the living arrangement, according to Duebbert’s lawyer, who says the guns were moved out before Fields moved in.

Three months later, Fields would be back in jail, charged with first-degree murder.

The parole-violation report was one of two documents received as part of a settlement in a public-records lawsuit filed by the Belleville News-Democrat against the Illinois Prisoner Review Board and Illinois Department of Corrections. The other was a visitor log from Graham Correctional Center.

The visitor log shows that Duebbert visited Fields monthly behind bars, sometimes more often, for up to eight hours at a time. Fields went to prison in August 2015 for battery of a pregnant woman and was released on parole in October.

The BND filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain the documents, but the request was initially denied. The BND then filed suit in St. Clair County.

The three-page parole violation report listed reasons for revoking Fields’ parole, among them his alleged murder of Carl Z. Silas in December. The other reasons were failure to provide true information about adjusting to community, failure to comply with a parole agent’s specific instructions, failing to complete a mental health evaluation and anger management classes, and possession of a firearm.

The report details Fields’ inability to find a place to live after his release, bouncing from his mother’s house in Shiloh to Duebbert’s house in Belleville, to an address in East St. Louis. Fields’ quest for a place to reside began in the weeks before his release from prison. He asked to move to Duebbert’s house on Powder Mill Road near Belleville, according to the report.

“(Parole agent) denied host site ... because potential host (Duebbert) admitted to having guns in the home and that he was not willing to remove at that time,” stated the report.

Dedra Brock-Moore, Duebbert’s attorney, disputed this account, saying that Duebbert did remove the guns to a remote location, and his home was approved, allowing Fields to live there. She pointed out that Fields was on electronic monitoring at the time, so they would have had to approve Duebbert’s house. Fields was required to register the address where he was staying with local police departments.

“They knew where he was. No one was trying to hide that,” Brock-Moore said.

As a sitting judge, Duebbert is restricted from talking about the Fields criminal case or an investigation by the Judicial Inquiry Board.

Duebbert wanted to help Fields, Brock-Moore said, because Duebbert didn’t want him to go back to criminality. Fields had received a six-year prison sentence for an attack on a pregnant Belleville East High School student. Duebbert has said he was friends with Fields before the conviction.

The Illinois Department of Corrections visitor logs, also obtained in the settlement, showed that Duebbert visited Fields monthly, sometimes more, for up to eight hours at a time. The log revealed that sometimes Fields characterized his relationship with Duebbert as a friend. Other times he called him a brother.

“Visitor information is self-reported by the offender when he or she completes a visitor list,” wrote Nicole J. Wilson, DOC spokeswoman.

Wilson said there would be no change in the visitation conditions based on the relationship.

Fields left prison Oct. 24 and went to his mother’s home in Shiloh, the violation report stated, but changed his host site to Duebbert’s home Nov. 4. Four days later, Duebbert, a Republican, defeated John Baricevic, a powerful Democrat, in the race for circuit judge.

But soon parole agents would come knocking.

The parole agent’s report states that Fields was instructed to move from Duebbert’s home Dec. 2 “because it was a denied host site.”

St. Clair County Chief Judge Andrew Gleeson learned of Fields’ residency situation and told Duebbert that he would not allow him to take the bench if Fields continued to reside at Duebbert’s home. Duebbert has said he told Fields he needed to move.

Duebbert was sworn in Dec. 5. Gleeson removed Duebbert from all felony cases later in December. Then, after the killing of Silas, Gleeson, removed Duebbert from handling any cases.

Gleeson can’t remove Duebbert from the bench. “That’s all up to the Judicial Inquiry Board,” Gleeson said.

The parole violation report also contains details about the Dec. 30 killing of Silas, 28.

Paramedics arriving at the scene of 2913 West Boulevard near Belleville found a baby covered in blood and wearing a blood-soaked diaper. The child was sleeping in bed with Silas, who was shot in the face.

Jaime Lott, who was Silas’ girlfriend and is Fields’ cousin, told police, “Day Day shot my boyfriend; he almost shot me and my baby.”

Lott has told reporters that two men wearing hoodies broke into the apartment and demanded money. Lott was struck in the head with the gun. She said she was struck in the head with a gun, and she begged for her life.

Brock-Moore said that after Fields became a suspect in the killing, Duebbert took police to where the guns were stored.

“They were all accounted for. There were no missing guns,” she said. “You better believe that if any guns were missing, Judge Duebbert would be arrested by now.”

Beth Hundsdorfer: 618-239-2570, @bhundsdorfer

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