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A jury has convicted a Collinsville, Illinois, man in the killing of Courtney Coats in Alton in 2013.
Brandon L. Chittum, 35, was found guilty of first-degree murder, dismembering a human body and concealment of a homicide on Monday, a news release from the Madison County State’s Attorney’s Office stated. His trial lasted six days at the Criminal Justice Center in Edwardsville.
According to the release, the jury heard testimony from several witnesses, including retired Captain Scott Golike from the Alton Police Department, several expert witnesses, Coats’ mother and Chittum’s co-defendant in the murder case, Patrick Chase.
Chase pleaded guilty to the charges against him in 2014 and was sentenced to 65 years in prison for his then-girlfriend’s murder.
Coats’ remains were found in the Illinois River in Greene County in December 2013. According to the Alton Telegraph, prosecutors said Coats and Chase had gotten in an argument when Chase pushed Coats, causing her to hit and badly injure her head. Chase said that he wanted to “put her out of her misery,” so he and Chittum dragged her into a bedroom and attempted to strangle her.
When their attempt failed, Chase said, he and Chittum dragged Coats into a bathroom, where Chase slit her throat. According to the Telegraph article, the men cut up her body, placed it in bags and took her remains to the Joe Page Bridge near Hardin.
The jury at Chittum’s trial deliberated for four hours on Monday before returning with the guilty verdict.
Chittum was charged on Dec. 20, 2013, but the trial was delayed for five years by an appeal, multiple defense continuances and a changing of defense counsel, the news release stated.
Now, Chittum could face up to a minimum of 65 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. According to the release, a sentencing hearing will be scheduled following the completion of a pre-sentencing investigation, which usually takes 6 to 8 weeks.
“Courtney’s death took a terrible toll on so many people around her and, indeed, on our entire community,” State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons wrote in the release. “I pray this verdict will grant some peace to everyone who knew and loved her and to the citizens of Madison County. We can all sleep much safer knowing he will never walk the streets of our community again.”