The first-degree murder trial of 22-year-old David E. Fields, who was once the roommate of a St. Clair County judge, was set to begin Monday afternoon in the December 2016 shooting death of Carl Z. Silas during a home invasion.
A mistrial in Fields’ case was declared by St. Clair County Circuit Judge Bob Haida in July during the trial’s third day when Michael Taylor, a man who was said to be in the apartment when Silas was shot to death, gave testimony regarding a gun. Haida ruled that Taylor should not have testified about the gun, and ordering jurors to ignore the testimony was not enough to protect Fields’ right to a fair trial.
Belleville Police pushed for murder charges against Fields, who is accused of breaking into his aunt’s apartment at 2913 West Blvd., near Belleville, ordering people in the apartment to give him money, then killing Silas as he lay in his bed.
The case went beyond the usual criminal parameters when it became publicly reported that Circuit Judge Ron Duebbert once allowed Fields, who had a violent criminal record, to reside in the judge’s west Belleville home.
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After the murder charge was filed against Fields, Chief Judge Andrew Gleeson removed Duebbert from hearing cases and reassigned him to other judicial matters. Duebbert has said he was only trying to help Fields turn his life around by offering him a home.
In July, judge formally dismissed criminal sexual abuse and intimidation charges against Duebbert.
During a brief hearing, the prosecutor, Lorinda Lampkin of the Illinois Appellate Prosecutor’s Office, said the accuser was intimidated by the court process, which would have included testifying against Duebbert in open court, where cameras would have recorded the trial.
Duebbert, a Republican, defeated former Chief Judge John Baricevic, a Democrat, in the 2016 election.
Police investigating the murder Fields is charged with asked that charges be brought against Duebbert for obstruction for alleging failing to tell them about alleged contact with Fields shortly after the killing occurred. Those charges were never brought.
A complaint has been filed concerning Duebbert with the state Judicial Inquiry Board. The board does not publicly comment about a case until a decision of whether to hand down discipline has been made.
The trial is expected to get underway Tuesday, once a jury has been seated.