St. Clair County sheriff’s investigators sent copies of audio and video recordings of a jailhouse visit between Cahokia political activist Donna Ayers and murder suspect David E. Fields, to special prosecutors.
“Yes, we sent the contents of the visit to them for their investigation,” Sheriff Rick Watson said. He declined further comment.
State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly asked for a special prosecutor after the Major Case Squad requested charges against Duebbert for obstructing justice in the Silas murder investigation
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Special prosecutors David Robinson and Dave Neal, from the Illinois State Appellate Prosecutor’s Office, could not be reached for comment.
The sheriff department released a copy of the video after a Belleville News-Democrat reporter requested Field’s visitor’s log and commissary fund reports. On Thursday, Watson contacted a reporter and said the DVD had been released by mistake and demanded its return. The newspaper returned the DVD and retained a copy.
In the video from July 28, Ayers tells Fields she believes he’s a “scapegoat,” being set up to take the fall in Silas’ murder because of his connection to Duebbert.
“He’s innocent,” Ayers said of Fields in an interview with the BND on Tuesday. “I really, really believe that he has been set up.”
Ayers said she went to the jail on her own, and was not asked to do so by Ron Duebbert or his sister and former legal secretary, Maria Duebbert.
“Maria told me that she thought it may be a bad idea, but I went any way,” Ayers said.
Duebbert, a Republican, defeated long-time Democrat John Baricevic in the race for circuit judge in November. Baricevic, the former chief judge in the 20th circuit, won St. Clair County but lost in the five county circuit-wide race.
Duebbert has stated he will not comment. His lawyer, Dan Fultz, could not be reached.
New Chief Judge Andrew Gleeson put Duebbert on administrative leave just days after Duebbert was sworn in when it was discovered that Fields listed his address at Duebbert’s Powder Mill Road address on the Illinois State Police Murderer and Violent Offenders Against Youth Registry.
Less than a month later, Silas was shot in the face at an apartment at 2913 West Blvd. near Belleville. Witnesses, including Fields’ cousin, identified David “Day Day” Fields as the shooter, according to court documents. The Major Case Squad investigated the case, and Fields was charged with the killing.
The visit with Ayers is one of 34 jailhouse recordings made of Fields while he has been held in the St. Clair County Jail. The visit with Ayers was on July 28 and lasted about 16 minutes. The other visits are with a romantic interest of Fields, Tamara Long, the mother of his children and Takeila Blackwell, his mother.
“Hi, I am Donna. I am a good friend of Duebbert,” Ayers tells Fields. “First of all I want you to see what I am wearing. (Shows a Duebbert for judge T-shirt). Second, I want you to know that you have so many supporters. We have your back. We care. We have a team working for you. You hang on. There’s a lot of stuff we found out that may not be true — in your favor.”
Ayers mentions additional people listed in the coroner’s report who were in the apartment at the time of the shooting.
“We have found out that there were six people in that apartment. Did you know that?” Ayers asked.
“No, ma’am,” Fields answered.
At one point, Ayers asked Fields whether he committed the murder. He declared he was “100 percent” innocent.
“I just want to say that I believe in you. I truly do. We believe in you,” Ayers said. “Just to let you know that the Duebbert family is behind you 100 percent and they want to tell you that they love you. They miss you. I’ve been thinking about you, too. You have been on my mind.
“In our mind we feel that you are a scapegoat. I mean, can you honestly say to me that you did not do this?
On the recording, Ayers tells Fields not to take any plea deals.
“I don’t know about your lawyer. You got a good one? You think you got a good one?” Ayers asked.
“Yes, ma’am,” Fields responded.
“Good. Then you know not to take any damn plea deal. If you are innocent, you are innocent,” she says.
Calls to Fields’ attorneys, Ryan Neal and Brittany Kimble, were not returned.
Ayers also told Fields that there were people coming in from New York to investigate his case.
At the end of the visit, Ayers offers to put money on Fields’ jail commissary account.
“Let’s see what we can do for you,” Ayers said. “Maybe we can get the team to start donating. We can hook you up a little.”
Fields did not get money on his account after the visit, according to the Sheriff’s Department records.
“The truth is going to come out. ... I worked my ass off to get Ron (Duebbert) in there. Nobody is going to block me,” Ayers said.