Jurors on Thursday found Randy McCallum Jr. guilty of two counts of first-degree murder. He was on trial for killing two men in Washington Park.
Deliberations began about 11 a.m. Courthouse bailiffs, sheriff’s deputies and Illinois Department of Corrections officers were near the courtroom in case the verdict prompted a reaction. Police even brought in a police dog as a large crowd assembled.
The jurors returned and the guilty verdict was rendered just before 4 p.m.
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This marks the second time McCallum has been on trial for the killings. His first trial ended in a mistrial after one juror could not agree to a guilty verdict in 2013.
McCallum, the son of former Alorton Mayor Randy McCallum, did not take the stand in his defense Wednesday, but jurors twice heard a recorded conversation he had with his stepmother.
McCallum, 26, called Gwendolyn McCallum in 2013 while sitting in the St. Clair County Jail during his first trial, which ended in a mistrial. The call was recorded.
“I did what I had to do in my self-defense,” McCallum told his stepmother. “I am a thug. I did what I had to do.”
The shootings occurred in 2009. The unanimous guilty verdict brought tears of joy for some and tears of sorrow for others. The victim’s were Charles Black, 20, and Kevin McVay. Their families were ecstatic that finally that had some justice for the murders of their loved ones. A tearful Breeyan Black was so thankful that her only sibling held on long enough to tell the police dispatcher who the shooter was. Her tears she said were “tears of joy.” The moment she experienced Thursday afternoon “was a long time coming, since 2009,” she said. She said her brother “was very strong, especially with the amount of gunshots he endured. He held on long enough to say who shot him,” Black said, as tears flowed from her eyes.
She said a cousin called her screaming to tell her the tragic news. She said “It has been completely horrible. He was my only sibling, and we previously lost our mother. It was just my brother and me. He was all I had. I feel lost. I am just overjoyed and satisfied with the verdict. The prosecutors were marvelous.”
Barbara Williams could not hold back her tears either as she heard the word guilty fall first from the mouth of St. Clair County Circuit Judge Heinz Rudolf in reference to her son son (McVay). Family members hugged her and tried to console her as she wept aloud. She spoke only a few words because she was so overcome with emotion.
Williams said former Washington Park Detective Kevin McAfee came to her house and told her to meet him at Kenneth Hall Hospital. She said her gut told her something serious had happened.
“I knew. I had a feeling,” she said.
Williams knew McCallum. Her son and McCallum went to school together, she said.
Since the tragedy nothing has been the same for her or her family, she said.
“Justice was served. The prosecutors were perfect. They did so much. Asked whether McVay was a father, she said he has a 7-year-old daughter, Makayla Campbell.
Kevin McVay Sr. said, “God is so good. I had no doubt God was going to make it right for us. We’ve been through a lot. He’s going to continue to make it right for us.” He, too, was filled with emotion. He said he would talk about his son and the kind of person he was a little later.
Sentencing for McCallum is set for April 14.
St.Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly said, “We owe the verdict to Charles Black, who had the strength to tell us who his killer was before he died. We also owe the verdict to Illinois State Police and the selfless and courageous commitment of assistant state’s attorneys Deb Phillips and Jim Piper. I could not be more proud of them.” After the guilty verdict came in, Piper leaned over his table and took a deep breath. He put his hand over his heart area and turned to the family he was representing. It was obvious that he was happy the outcome was what the family was hoping for.
McCallum sat motionless throughout the closing arguments, and as the judge read aloud the jury’s verdict and while he polled each juror by their number and asked them if it was their verdict, McCallum’s demeanor remained the same. One through 12, the answer from each juror was “Yes.” A unanimous guilty verdict for the prosecution team came just prior to 4 p.m. Right after they gave their verdict, the jury was escorted out of the building by police. Everyone else was kept inside until Rudolf got word that each had safely made it to their vehicles. As he was being led from the courtroom, McCallum turned to his family and friends, smiled and put his right hand over his heart and gave them a thumbs up.
Randy McCallum Sr. said the family will appeal because they want to know why St. Clair County Chief Judge John Baricevic was not on the bench. McCallum said he has been the judge all along. McCallum was told Baricevic was sick. But McCallum said he had seen Baricevic walking up and down the hallway and in the courtroom.
More than 50 people filled the hallway of the fourth floor throughout the day. A majority of the people were family and friends of McCallum. Law enforcement was everywhere, They even brought in a canine in case anyone over-reacted to the verdict. There were no problems. Many of the people wailed aloud. Some covered their faces and cried as they emerged from the courtroom.
In the end, it was the 911 call, in which one victim, the 20-year-old Charles Black, while gasping for breathe told a police dispatcher, through garbled words, that he was on 38th street at Natalie in Washington Park and just prior to his last breath, he said very plainly to the dispatcher that the shooter was Randy McCallum. Black was shot once in the back of his head and seven other times in other areas of his body. The other victim, Kevin McVay, was shot four times.
Assistant State’s Attorney Deb Phillips played the 911 call for the jury. And she told them “unequivocably he says Randy McCallum is the shooter.”
Another damning piece of evidence was the recorded jail house call in which McCallum called his stepmother, Gwendolyn McCallum in 2013 from a recorded jail phone. “I did what I had to do in my self defense. I am a thug. I did what I had to do,” McCallum said.
Defense Attorney Rick Roustio tried to discredit the police investigation in the case. He told jurors that they were about to make one of the biggest decisions of their lives. Their decision, Roustio said, was going to affect someone’s life. It would be a tough decision they each had to make, Roustio told them. And, Roustio said he wanted the jurors to stay focused on the facts and keep their feelings aside.
He attacked the police work done. He said the two investigators on the case were in the twilight of their careers and they didn’t pay attention to detail. They had gotten his client’s name from a witness who said McCallum shot the victims and instead of doing the investigative work they had been trained to do, they locked in on McCallum. They didn’t take measurements of critical pieces of evidence. They didn’t collect all of the evidence from the crime scene, such as cellphones and a rifle and some shell casing, Roustio said.