‘You have so many supporters,’ judge’s friend tells murder suspect
The judge presiding over the murder trial of David Fields has barred the county sheriff from releasing any information about his jail stay to the media.
St. Clair County Circuit Judge Bob Haida issued the restraining order.
“The St. Clair County Sheriff Department shall be restrained from releasing any personal information, including but not limited to phone call logs, video calls, commissary reports to any non-law enforcement agency,” states the order. It was issued Sept. 15.
Charles Colburn, the appellate prosecutor who has been appointed to the case, said Fields’ defense attorney, Brittney Kimble, requested the order. Colburn did not respond to other questions from a reporter. Kimble did not respond to a reporter’s request for comment.
Fields, 21, is the former roommate of St. Clair County Judge Ron Duebbert. Police who investigated the Fields case have asked that Duebbert be charged with obstructing their investigation.
The order comes more than a month after a recording of a jailhouse visit between Fields and Duebbert supporter Donna Ayers was released to the Belleville News-Democrat.
The Sheriff’s Department released a copy of the video after a Belleville News-Democrat reporter requested Fields’ visitor log and commissary fund reports. Sheriff Rick Watson later contacted a reporter and said the DVD recording of Fields’ jail visits had been released by mistake and demanded its return. The newspaper returned the DVD and retained a copy.
Watson said at the time that he also provided copies of those visits to a special prosecutor. St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly has requested a special prosecutor to investigate Duebbert and prosecute the murder case against Fields.
“I’m going to abide by the judge’s order,” Watson said.
Fields is accused of shooting Carl Z. Silas, who was shot in an east Belleville apartment on Dec. 30 as he lay next to his baby daughter. 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 was 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 included ones with Tamara Long, the mother of his children, and and ones with Takeila Blackwell, his mother.
In the video, Ayers told Fields that she was part of team investigating the case, doubted his guilt and urged him not to plead guilty.
“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.”
Duebbert’s connection to Fields came to light after Duebbert’s election victory over longtime judge John Baricevic. 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, on a parole report, at Duebbert’s Powder Mill Road address.
Fields was required to register his address as part of his parole on an aggravated assault conviction. Fields pleaded guilty to aggravated assault in exchange for prosecutors dropping a criminal sexual assault charge. Fields was accused of beating and raping a 17-year-old girl at Belleville East High School. After he was charged, a 14-year-old girl came forward and said Fields raped her, too. Prosecutors issued a juvenile complaint against Field in that case because he was only 16 at the time of the assault.
The killing at the apartment happened just three months after Fields’ release.
The Major Case Squad requested obstruction of justice charges against Duebbert, but the case was turned over to the special prosecutor. Duebbert appeared briefly before a grand jury in July. No charges have been issued against him.
Both Gleeson and Kelly have submitted complaints about Duebbert to the Judicial Inquiry Board, which investigates potential violations committed by state judges. That was first done in January. To date, Duebbert remains on the bench and continues to receive his $194,000 annual salary.