Fellow jail inmate testifies against man on trial in 2018 murder | Courts-police-fire
URBANA – An inmate at Champaign County Prison admitted another prisoner was involved in a fatal shooting in Champaign, according to testimony Friday in a Champaign County murder trial.
Multi-convicted felon Dennis Griham, 51, told jurors that Michael Chatman, 21, told him he shot Ricky Green on March 23, 2018 while trying to steal his gun from Mr. Green.
Griham, who is now serving a Justice Department sentence for heavy driving under the influence of alcohol, testified that Chatman was taken to the same cell block as him in Urbana in early February 2020 and that after a few days of small talk, Chatman began to confide in details of Mr. . Green.
Griham admitted he had given his information to police in hopes of being convicted in a drug court for his DUI. However, he was sentenced to prison when found unfit.
Among the details Griham said he knew from a conversation with Chatman was that co-defendant Michael Simmons told Chatman on Jan.
Simmons and Chatman are supposed to pick up Mr. Green in Urbana that day, drive around and drink cognac together. They ended up that evening at Shadowwood Mobile Home Park, north of Champaign, where Chatman’s mother’s friend lived.
According to Griham, Chatman said he got out of the car with Mr. Green, they were arguing, and the gun accidentally went off and hit Mr. Green twice.
Chatman also told Griham that he lost a Timberland boot in the scuffle and a second later and had to hide under a motor home because the police were nearby. He said his gun was a Glock that he had disassembled and that there was one left in the car they got in Shadowwood.
On Thursday, another witness said Chatman showed up at her door on Bradley Avenue early March 23 without shoes or shirt and in dirty jeans and asked to use her phone.
Earlier Friday, 20-year-old Champaign Police Officer Nathanael Epling testified that he was at a social checkpoint at Shadowwood Mobile Home Park, located at Block 0-100 on Apricot Drive, early March 23, 2018.
He said that passengers he and another officer had seen in the car minutes earlier on another street of the RV park were no longer in it and the doors were left open. Only one “excited” woman stayed with the vehicle.
When Epling’s partner spoke to her, Epling said his attention had been drawn to an area between two nearby RVs.
“I heard something in the northeast that I thought was a shouting or some kind of loud noise,” Epling testified.
After the sound, but unaware of a shootout in the RV park, Epling said he had spotted a black boot in the grass between the two houses. As he left, he heard something that sounded like someone was calling for help.
Seconds later, police were alerted that block 0-100 of Juniper Drive, which Epling estimated, had been fired 150 meters north and east of Apricot, where he and his partner were with the Malibu.
At the scene of the crime, other police officers tried to rescue Mr. Green, who had been shot in the shoulder and groin and was bleeding profusely.
Forensic pathologist Dr. Shiping Bao testified that one of the two gunshots that hit Mr. Green may have killed him because it hit large arteries and caused profuse bleeding.
Epling said he tried to keep the crime scene intact while the others provided assistance.
Items found near Mr. Green’s body on Juniper included clothes that had been stripped from him during police work, a matching black boot under a van near his body, a brown Timberland boot near the driveway, two cartridge cases and a round live.
The cases were .40 caliber, Epling testified, and could not have come from a .357 revolver found on the floor of the back seat of the Malibu on Apricot.
Police also found an Illinois ID card belonging to co-defendant Michael Simmons in the driver’s door of that car.
Against defense attorney Kevin Nolan’s appeal, the jury also heard that Chatman pleaded guilty in August 2019 to possessing this .357 revolver on the night of March 22, 2018. It wasn’t until six months later that he became over Mr. Greens. accused of murder.
Prosecutors wanted the jury to know of his admission that he had the gun to back up their theory that he and Simmons had planned to steal his gun from Mr. Green.
Mr. Green was killed with his own gun, they believe. To back up that claim, the jury heard that on February 26, 2018, about a month before his death, Mr. Green fired his gun into the air from a vehicle he was in with others at Block 700 on Kenwood Road would have. Champagne.
The cases found – and picked up by the police – the next day by a Comcast agent were from the same weapon as the case found near Mr. Green’s body, which allowed police to know he had been shot with his own gun.
The jury will be back on Tuesday to continue taking evidence as Judge Randy Rosenbaum has other cases scheduled for Monday.