Crime

David Fields released from jail after being found not guilty in Belleville murder

Parolee who lived with judge charged with murder

In this BND file video from Jan. 4, 2017, investigators announced first-degree murder charges against David Fields, 20, of Belleville, in connection with the Dec. 29, 2016, shooting death of Carl Silas, 28, of Belleville.
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In this BND file video from Jan. 4, 2017, investigators announced first-degree murder charges against David Fields, 20, of Belleville, in connection with the Dec. 29, 2016, shooting death of Carl Silas, 28, of Belleville.

The 22-year-old man who was found not guilty Monday night in the murder of a Belleville man was released from jail Wednesday.

David Fields was charged with the shooting death of Carl Silas on Dec. 30, 2016, at a Belleville apartment at 2913 West Blvd. A St. Clair County jury deliberated nine hours before returning the not-guilty verdict.

One of the two defense attorneys, Ryan E. Neal, said Fields originally was being held Tuesday for possible transport to the Illinois Department of Corrections to appear before the Illinois Parole Board. But on Wednesday, he was released instead from the St. Clair County Jail.

Fields’ mother, Takeila Blackwell, said she was pleased with the verdict. “It was the right verdict,” Blackwell said in an interview with a News-Democrat reporter. “I know it wasn’t him who did this.”

Blackwell said her son never displayed any behavior that would indicate to her that he could be capable of committing a murder. She also had praise for the defense team the family hired.

“We are very pleased with the job they did. They kept digging and the more they dug, the more the lies came out. And, we are also pleased with the work the jury did. They hung in there and paid close attention to all of the material they were given. And, they came back with the right verdict,” Blackwell said.

Fields also was represented by attorney Brittany B. Kimble.

One of the prosecution’s key witnesses was Jamie Lott, who had children with the victim. She was present when two intruders broke into the apartment, one of them shooting Silas.

After the verdict, Lott continued to maintain that the person who came into the apartment with a long rifle looking for drugs and money was Fields, whom she referred to repeatedly as her cousin. Although the individual with the gun was dressed in all black and his face was covered with a black, nylon ski mask, Lott said she knows her family. She said she recognized Fields by his eyes and his voice.

“He’s really my cousin, but I don’t claim him as a cousin after this. The killer is on the loose,” the 26-year-old mother of Silas’ two children said.

“I just wanted justice to be served for Carl Silas,” Lott said. “I don’t trust law enforcement anymore. They are supposed to put the bad people away and to serve and protect. Now I have to live in fear for my life because he’s gonna come after me.”

This was the second time Fields stood trial on the murder charge. A mistrial in Fields’ case was declared by St. Clair County Circuit Judge Bob Haida in July during the first trial 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.

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, 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 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.

Carolyn P. Smith has worked for the Belleville News-Democrat for 18 years and currently covers breaking news in the Metro-East. She graduated from the Journalism School at the University of Missouri at Columbia and says news is in her DNA.


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