Mother-in-law of shooting victim identifies her nephew as the gunman during testimony

David Fields
David Fields Provided

LaTisha Traylor knew her nephew, David Fields, all his life.

And it was Fields who broke into her West Boulevard apartment in the early morning hours of Dec. 30, 2016 — demanding money, shooting her son-in-law, Carl Z. Silas, beating her and her boyfriend, then fleeing, she testified Wednesday during Fields’ trial on charges of first-degree murder and home invasion.

Though the two intruders had their faces covered, Traylor told the jury that she knew it was Fields because she saw his eyes, his nose and his hair.

Traylor awoke after hearing three shots in her apartment, she said, then got up and went to the room of her daughter, Jamie Lott, where she saw Fields standing over the bed with a gun. Lott was on the floor. Traylor went to check on her son, Michael, but then, she said, Fields came behind her with the gun.

She and Fields struggled over the gun, she said, injuring her hand.

Under cross-examination, Fields’ attorney, Brittney Kimble, asked Traylor whether the intruders were wearing gloves.

“I don’t know,” Traylor responded. “I wasn’t paying any attention to his hands. He had a gun in my face.”

Fields, now 22, was charged with first-degree murder, attempted armed robbery and home invasion after Silas was found shot in the face in his bed in Apartment 10 at 2913 West Boulevard outside Belleville around 5 a.m. on Dec. 30, 2016. Jamie Lott and their baby girl were in the same bed with Silas at the time of the shooting, according to testimony.

On Tuesday, Special Prosecutor Charles Colburn played a 911 tape for the jury. In the tape, Jamie Lott, alternately crying and screaming, tells the 911 operator that Fields, whom she calls by the nickname “Dae Dae,” shot her boyfriend.

After his release from prison in October 2016 for an attack on a pregnant Belleville East High School student, Fields was required to register with the Illinois State Police Murderer and Violent Offender Against Youth list. He listed his address as being the same as Judge Ronald Duebbert’s, on Powder Mill Road.

In the final run-up to the 2016 election, Duebbert, a Republican, faced then-St. Clair County Chief Judge John Baricevic. In early November, Duebbert defeated Baricevic. Before he was sworn-in, Duebbert asked Fields to move out. But when Fields was charged with Silas’ killing, Duebbert was removed from hearing any cases.

After the killing, Major Case Squad investigators applied for obstruction of justice charges against Duebbert in connection to his statements about his contact with Fields in the hours prior to the killing. No charges were filed, but Duebbert still faces a complaint filed with the Judicial Inquiry Board regarding the Silas case.

Edited version of the video from the jail visit between St. Clair County Circuit Judge Ron Duebbert supporter Donna Ayers and murder suspect David E. Fields.

The murder trial was expected to continue Thursday with more prosecution witnesses. Colburn told the presiding judge, Circuit Judge Robert Haida, that he expects to rest his case on Monday. The defense is expected to call their witnesses Monday afternoon.

During Wednesday’s testimony, Kimble and her co-counsel, Ryan Neal, questioned details about the statement that Traylor gave to police who arrived at the home and later to detectives, specifically whether Fields or the other still-unidentified suspect took Traylor’s purse, beat Traylor’s boyfriend, Raynard Traylor, and what kind of gun was used in the attack.

She also asked about how Traylor could be so sure that it was Fields who broke in that night and held the family at gunpoint. It was dark, and Traylor had just awakened. The intruders wore masks, Kimble pointed out.

Traylor responded that she knew it was Fields by his hair, his eyes, his nose and his voice. As he walked out of the apartment that morning, she testified, she heard him say, “Now we out of this mother (expletive).”