‘He had an ominous demeanor’: Trial begins in killing of Granite City motorcyclist

Caleb Bailey of Pontoon Beach is on trial facing charges he killed Travis Mayes two years ago.
Caleb Bailey of Pontoon Beach is on trial facing charges he killed Travis Mayes two years ago.

The narrative woven by prosecutors in Caleb Bailey’s murder trial Tuesday was that of a jealous boyfriend seeking revenge.

Bailey, 25, of Pontoon Beach, faces three counts of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Travis Mayes on May 18, 2014. Mayes was found dead in a Granite City parking lot that night, lying astride his tipped-over motorcycle in a pool of blood. It was eventually determined Mayes had died not of a crash as initially suspected, but a single gunshot to the head.

Bailey was living with Brittney Bess, with whom he had a child. They had separated for a while, and during that time she dated Mayes. Bess later told police she had broken up with Mayes and moved back in with Bailey. Testimony from Bailey’s friends Tuesday alleged that Bess and Mayes were talking at Nick’s Bar in Granite City on the night in question.

Kurt Watters testified that he went out into the parking lot at one point and was approached by Bailey, who was a friend. Watters said that Bailey offered him $500 to go back into the bar and beat up Mayes.

“(Bailey) usually has this friendly, outgoing personality,” Watters said, but added that Bailey was different that night. “He had an ominous demeanor about him a little bit. He didn’t seem like his normal self.”

Watters said he refused to fight Mayes, because he didn’t want to get involved. He told his friends, including fellow witness Jesse Bush, that Bailey “didn’t seem right.” Later that night, Watters said, they gave Bess a ride home.

But Assistant State’s Attorney Jennifer Mudge said that when Bailey came home, he told Bess he had “shot (her) boyfriend.” He dared her to call Mayes, Mudge said, and when she did, there was no answer. Bess called 911, but police had already found Mayes’ body.

Mudge said Bailey taunted her, showing her the gun and unloading it in front of her, showing her the spent cartridge. When police arrived, she said, he came out with his hands up and told police where to find the gun and cartridge, lying in the center of the living room floor. It was later photographed there by police.

Mayes was shot in the head while sitting on his motorcycle, and was still astride it when he fell over, Mudge said. “The defendant did not shoot Travis Mayes because he had to,” Mudge said. “He shot him for the worst of reasons: because he wanted to.”

Much of Tuesday was taken up with law enforcement and forensic testimony, along with statements from Watters and other witnesses at the bar. Illinois State Police Trooper Grant Hentze, a crime-scene technician, showed the jury multiple items recovered from the scene and from Mayes’ person, including a three-inch knife and the bullet recovered from his head. Defense attorney David Fahrenkamp asked Hentze to open the blade before the jury to demonstrate its length.

The jury was selected on Monday, and the trial began Tuesday. It is estimated to run much of this week.

Elizabeth Donald: 618-239-2507, @BNDedonald