The first-degree murder trial of 22-year-old David E. Fields began Tuesday with the playing of an emotional 911 call made by the victim’s girlfriend, in which she identified Fields as the killer.
Defense attorney Ryan Neal in his opening statement cautioned jurors to consider only the evidence “because the evidence doesn’t lie.”
After his opening statement, special prosecutor Charles Colburn played the 20 minute 911 call, during which the caller screamed that her boyfriend had been killed but was calmed down enough by the dispatcher to state it was Fields who did the shooting. She said Fields fled the apartment where the shooting of Carl Silas took place, and that he was accompanied by another person who was not identified.
State Trooper Virgil Perkins, the crime scene investigator who processed the evidence found in the apartment at 2913 West Blvd., Apt. 10, identified two .spent 40-cal. handgun casings, one found near the victim and another found on the floor not far away. Perkins also said he found a Taurus .40 semi-automatic pistol under some baby clothing in a bassinet in an adjoining room.
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Jurors also saw color photographs of the victim lying on his back and bleeding from the mouth, a pool of blood under his head. He was declared dead at the scene.
Fields, who was once the roommate of Ron Duebbert, now a St. Clair County judge, was first brought to trial in July but a mistrial was declared 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. Judge Robert Haida ruled that Taylor should not have testified about the gun, and that 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 bed.
The case went beyond the usual criminal parameters when it became publicly reported that Duebbert once allowed Fields, who had a violent criminal record, to reside in the judge’s west Belleville home. Duebbert said he was just trying to help a young man, who had a criminal record, by offering him a home.
After the murder charge was filed against Fields, Chief Judge Andrew Gleeson removed Duebbert from hearing cases and reassigned him to other judicial matters.
In July, a 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 Silas murder 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.
Just before the trial recessed Tuesday afternoon, Sgt. Karl Kraft of the Belleville Police Department testified for the prosecution and identified Fields as the person caught on a videotape at the Circle K convenience store at 1001 E Main St., the day before the murder, at 3:02 p.m.
Kraft then testified that on the next day at 10:50 a.m. he spoke to David Fields Jr., the defendant’s father. There were no questions about why the call was made and cross examination didn’t concern that aspect.
According to a court motion, Fields Jr., has been brought from the federal prison in Greenville where he is serving a sentence for drugs and is listed on the prosecution’s witness list. There was no testimony as to why he would be sought to appear as a witness at his son’s murder trial.
Fields Jr., 38, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2008 on drug and weapons charges. He was released on parole, but his parole was revoked about six weeks after the murder. According to federal court documents, Fields failed to participate in drug treatment and was arrested by Washington Park police for possession with the intent to distribute marijuana in February.