17 people have been killed in Sangamon County so far this year. Here are the 2021 victims

Bruce Rushton
Correspondent
A memorial of candles and stuffed animals has been setup on the steps of the home where Savante English, Keyera Gant and Bryant K. Williams were killed in the 2500 block of South 10th Street in Springfield, Ill., Monday, August 23, 2021. [Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register]

In Sangamon County, so far this year, 17 deaths have been ruled homicide by Coroner Jim Allmon. Records show the number matches 2017 for the most homicides in recent years. 

Among the cases, authorities have at least three suspects but have not filed charges. At least one uncharged case may end up in court, as the family of a Sangamon County jail inmate who died last spring after a struggle with jailers has said that a lawsuit will be filed.

There have been no arrests in three cases that remain under investigation. Of nine people facing murder charges, the youngest is 15, the oldest 46. The youngest victim was 17-years-old, the oldest 55. The average age was 31.

While homicides increased two over the previous year, criminal case filings were down, according to the Sangamon County circuit clerk’s office. Prosecutors filed 1,307 felony cases in 2020 through November. In 2021, the number dropped to 1,001 for the same time period. Criminal misdemeanor cases also have fallen, from 920 filed through November of 2020 to 725 this year through November.

Still, prosecutors are busy, according to Sangamon County State’s Attorney Dan Wright, who joined the office in 2016,

“We have tried more cases to verdict this year than in any prior year I have been in the office and we intend to continue that into 2022,” said Wright, who noted that cases typically pend for more than a year before adjudication. “A prosecutor is ethically obligated to review each investigation on its own unique facts and determine whether available evidence supports a reasonable belief that a criminal offense can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt at trial. Our obligation to seek justice rather than quotas is a duty we take very seriously.”

Here is a look at 2021 homicide cases as of Dec. 15.

Carlos Dozier II

Carlos Dozier, 22, was one of five people shot Feb. 20 at a party inside a former beauty supply shop at the intersection of South 11th Street and South Grand Avenue. The other four victims survived.

Dozier left behind a one-year-old son and an infant boy who wasn’t yet three weeks old, according to media reports. A video that included the sound of gunfire and people screaming surfaced after the tragedy, but no arrests have been made. Neighboring businesses had complained about parties in the building in weeks leading up the shooting, Ward 2 Ald. Shawn Gregory said after the killing. 

Malachi K. Williams

Malachi Williams, a 17-year-old senior at Lanphier High School, died on Feb. 20, two days after he was shot while inside a car on the 2200 block of East Enterprise Avenue in Grandview.

Another teenager in the car was wounded. Police arrested Nazsier T. Robinson, then 16, after finding him behind a nearby house. Charged with first-degree murder, aggravated battery with a firearm and three other gun-related felonies, he faces life in prison if convicted as charged.

Timothy Dale Swope Jr.

Timothy Dale Swope, 36, died the day after he was shot multiple times on Feb. 25 behind a home on the 2300 block of South Sixth Street. Dustin N. Carson, 21, was arrested a month later and charged with a half-dozen felonies ranging from distributing controlled substances to unlawful possession of a firearm by a street gang member.

Two weeks after landing in jail, Carson was charged with murder in the Swope case. 

Daniel W. Kinney

Daniel W, Kinney, 24, died from a gunshot wound on March 15. Police found him dead on the back porch of a house in the 900 block of East Griffiths Avenue. He lived in Elmwood. Springfield police say that the person who called police reported that someone had kicked in the home’s back door before the shooting.

Three days after the killing, police arrested Clinton Shores, who has been charged with murder, home invasion, attempted armed robbery and being an armed habitual criminal. In 2016, Shores, 29, pleaded guilty to possessing methamphetamine manufacturing equipment and received a four-year prison sentence in Sangamon County.

James C. Simpson Jr.

James C. Simpson, 21, was inside a car when he was shot March 23 in the parking lot of a liquor store on the 2800 block of Clear Lake Avenue. Another person in the car was shot in the back but survived.

The gunman ran and has not been arrested, although Sangamon County Sheriff Jack Campbell says that detectives have made progress and plan to consult with prosecutors in January. “It’s going good,” Campbell said. “We’ve got a person of interest.” 

Joshua Ray Pfeiler

Joshua Ray Pfeiler, 38, was stabbed April 1 in a Rochester home where he lived with Keely A. Williams, who turned 46 that same day. Police found Pfeiler in the home’s driveway.

Accompanied by her lawyer, Williams turned herself in within 24 hours. Charged with first-degree murder and aggravated domestic battery, Williams is being held on $2 million bond, with her Dec. 13 trial continued. In 2008, she pleaded guilty to forgery and received a two-year sentence, with a recommendation from the judge that she be placed in a facility where mental health counseling was available.

Courtney Lynn Smith

Springfield police responding to a shots-fired report used nonlethal bean bags to arrest the alleged killer after finding him at the North Lincoln Avenue home where Courtney Lynn Smith, 37, died from multiple gunshot wounds on April 23.

A graduate of Pleasant Plains High School, Smith had a son and a daughter. Charged with first-degree murder, aggravated battery with a firearm and aggravated domestic violence, Jahsen L. Thomas, 43, remains jailed on $2 million bond, with trial set for Jan. 18. 

Jamieson Cody

Jamieson Cody, 39, died after an April 27 struggle with guards at the Sangamon jail. After a pathologist who conducted the autopsy concluded that he’d suffocated, the coroner’s office ruled the death a homicide.

The case was reviewed by the Sangamon County state’s attorney and the Illinois State’s Attorney Appellate Prosecutor’s office, with both entities concluding that no crime could be proven. A camera aimed at the area where a guard put his weight atop Cody did not activate, so there is no clear footage of the altercation.

More:Belleville man arrested in connection with Nov. 10 homicide in Springfield

Robert A. Power Jr.

Robert A. Power, 55, was injured on May 15 during an altercation in a home near the intersection of East Ash and South 15th streets, according to the Sangamon County coroner’s office.

He died eight days later on May 23 from blunt force trauma at St. John’s Hospital. No charges have been filed in the case.

Keyera LaRae Gant

Three months before her death, Keyera LaRae Gant, 25, graduated from Lincoln College with a bachelor’s degree in health administration. She’d twice been promoted at Health Instead, where she started as a caregiver and rose to staffing coordinator, according to an online obituary.

One of three victims in an Aug. 9 triple homicide inside a South 10th Street home, she died of gunshots and was a cousin of Savante English, another victim that day. She left behind two older sisters and her mother. The case remains unsolved.

The Springfield Police Dept. investigate a homicide involving "multiple victims" in the 2500 block of South 10th Street in Springfield, Ill., Monday, August 9, 2021. [Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register]

Bryant Williams

Bryant Williams, another victim in the unsolved South 10th Street triple homicide on Aug. 9, died three days before his 28th birthday. He attended school in Springfield, loved music and was living in Texas, where his mother also resided, when he was killed, according to an online obituary.

Williams was a childhood friend of English, a relative told the State Journal-Register when the bodies were found.

Savante English

With eyeglasses a mix of librarian and Clark Kent, Savante English, 27, died in the Aug. 9, South 10th Street triple homicide that remains unsolved. After graduating from Lanphier High School, he studied automobile mechanics at Lincoln Land Community College while working at McDonald's, then became a forklift operator, according to an online obituary.

After nearly 20 years working in the coroner’s office, Sangamon County Coroner Jim Allmon called the killing scene one of the most horrific he’s seen.

Hason Willis

Hason Willis, 43, fled into a storefront at a strip mall on the 2100 block of Adlai Stevenson Drive strip before collapsing after being shot on Oct. 4. Two days later, police arrested Christopher Hall, a Wisconsin resident, after finding him at the Super 8 motel on North Dirksen Parkway, about four miles away from the shooting scene.

Hall, 37, is being held at the Sangamon County jail on charges of murder, unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon, aggravated discharge of a firearm and aggravated assault. The day before the shooting, Hall had pulled a gun and threatened people at the scene where Willis was later shot, police say. He was wanted for a parole violation in Wisconsin when Willis died.

Demarius D. Burnside

Demarius D. Burnside, 28, died after being shot multiple times inside a home in the 1600 block of East Morgan Avenue, near Bunn Park, on Nov. 6.

After interviewing witnesses and a person police described as a possible suspect, no arrests were made. Burnside lived in Peoria.

Mark Maddox

Mark Maddox, 37, survived five days after being stabbed on Nov. 7 on the 1000 block of North Fourth Street. Initially charged with aggravated battery, Robert L. Walton faces trial on murder charges.

Walton, 61, has two misdemeanor domestic battery convictions and a felony conviction for domestic battery, according to Sangamon County Circuit Court records. 

Derek Jeffrey Banker Barnett

On Nov. 10, police found Derek Jeffrey Banker Barnett’s body in the trunk of a stolen car parked in an alley near a home in the 1900 block of Cornell Avenue. Barnett, 30, had been shot to death.

U.S. marshals had been in the Springfield neighborhood apprehending a wanted subject. While conducting that investigation, the marshals noticed the vehicle and found Barnett's body.

On Dec. 15, a Sangamon County grand jury indicted LaMarcus Hunter, 32, of Belleville. He was charged with four counts of first-degree murder.

The connection between Hunter and Barnett was unclear.

Deputy Chief Joshua Stuenkel of the Springfield Police Department said investigators were trying to determine where Barnett was killed. Barnett, who lived in Virden, graduated from Virden High School and was a student at Lincoln Land Community College, where he studied HVAC and refrigeration. A Grateful Dead fan, he was laid to rest in tie dye.

Lanphier High School students call for justice for Pierre V. Scott Jr., 18, a Lanphier student who was stabbed and killed outside the school, during a walk out by the students at Lanphier High School in Springfield, Ill., Friday, November 19, 2021. Students at Lanphier, along with Southeast and Springfield, held a walk out in protest over security concerns after the death of Scott and to also honor him with a moment of silence. [Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register]

Pierre V. Scott Jr.

A student at Lanphier High School, Pierre V. Scott, 18, was stabbed to death outside the school on Nov. 17. Police have arrested a 15-year-old girl who was charged with murder. Wright has said that he plans to try her as an adult. She faces a prison term as long as 65 years if convicted.

Sangamon County homicides over five years 

2021: 17

2020: 15

2019: 11

2018: 12

2017: 17

Source: Sangamon County Coroner’s Office