It was supposed to be the third day of testimony in the prosecutions case against David E. Fields, who was facing charges of first-degree murder and home invasion in connection with the shooting death of Carl Z. Silas, but St. Clair County Circuit Judge Bob Haida on Thursday declared a mistrial.
“I’m saddened that it has concluded this way,” Haida told the jurors before he excused them.
Just after 9 a.m. on Thursday, Haida found that testimony on Thursday morning offered by Michael Taylor, a man who was in the apartment at the time of Silas’ shooting death, should not have been heard by jurors, and that striking the testimony was not enough to repair that mistake. The testimony was regarding a gun.
One of the jurors, who declined to give his name, said as he was leaving the courthouse that he hadn’t heard enough to decide the case.
Fields, 22, is accused of breaking into his aunt’s apartment at 2913 West Blvd. near Belleville on Dec. 30, 2016, demanding money, then shooting Silas as Silas lay in the bed with Silas’ girlfriend and the couple’s child.
Fields is the former roommate of St. Clair County Circuit Judge Ron Duebbert. During his 2016 campaign for judge, Duebbert allowed Fields, who was on parole for assaulting a pregnant Belleville East High School student, to move into his Powder Mill Road home. Duebbert, a Republican, defeated Democrat John Baricevic, who was then the chief judge in the circuit.
After the election and the murder charge was filed against Fields, Duebbert was removed from hearing cases. Duebbert has said he was only trying to help Fields turn his life around.
Detectives investigating the Silas murder at one point asked prosecutors to charge Duebbert with obstruction for allegedly failing to disclose contact with Fields in the hours after the murder.
Duebbert was on the witness list for the prosecution, but Haida ruled that his testimony was not relevant to the case against Fields.
Haida set a status hearing for the Fields case on Sept. 14.
After the mistrial, Fields’ attorneys, Brittany Kimble and Ryan Neal, asked for a reduction of Fields’ bond, but Haida denied the motion.
Fields remained in custody as of Thursday at the St. Clair County Jail.