Metro-East News

East St. Louis man guilty but mentally ill in 2014 shooting death

An East St. Louis man will serve 31 years in prison for a shooting death that occurred in February 2014.

Montrell D. Spencer, 21, was sentenced by St. Clair County Chief Judge John Baricevic on Thursday.

Spencer pleaded guilty but mentally ill.

Spencer was accused of killing Leon Lucus Jr., who was found shot to death inside a car parked on North 23rd Street near Gross Avenue in East St. Louis on Feb. 22, 2014. The driver-side and passenger-side windows of the car were shot out.

Spencer was arrested about three weeks after the shooting in the 500 block of Veronica Avenue. An East St. Louis officer went to the area to investigate a domestic dispute. Spencer was taken into custody on suspicion of domestic battery. While he was in custody, officers learned he was a suspect in connection with Lucas’ murder.

The guilty but mentally ill plea will allow Spencer to receive mental health treatment while serving time in the Illinois Department of Corrections. Spencer must serve 100 percent of his sentence before he is eligible for parole.

Assistant State’s Attorney Steve Sallerson prosecuted the case. Patrick Sullivan was Spencer’s lawyer.

Sullivan provided the following statement in regards to the case: “Mr. Spencer admitted his guilt and assumed full responsibility for his actions. At the conclusion of the sentencing, he apologized to both his family and the family of Mr. Lucas. Hopefully, he can now begin the process of rehabilitation while Mr. Lucas’s family can get the closure they need to begin the healing process.”

St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly praised the work of the police officers who investigated the case.

“The officers did an outstanding, professional job investigating this case and Leon’s family is very satisfied with the court’s sentence,” Kelly said.

Beth Hundsdorfer: 618-239-2570, @bhundsdorfer