Charges dropped against Champaign woman who witnessed fatal beating

URBANA — A Champaign County prosecutor has dismissed criminal charges against a woman who was present last summer when another man was beaten so badly that he later died.

Assistant State's Attorney Troy Lozar on Tuesday dismissed charges of obstructing justice and concealment of a homicidal death lodged against Constance Chapple in the wake of the September death of Russell Stokes, 54, of Champaign.

Mr. Stokes died on Sept. 18 from blows rained upon him Sept. 16 by Jermaine Davis, 36, of Champaign.

A jury convicted Davis of first-degree murder for Mr. Stokes' death in February and Judge Tom Difanis subsequently sentenced Davis to the maximum 60 years in prison.

On Tuesday, Lozar told Difanis he would not pursue criminal charges against Chapple.

"Based on the evidence provided by her at trial, she inflicted no injury to the victim. She attempted to prevent injury to the victim. Any obstructing action (by her) appears to have been committed under duress," said Lozar.

Chapple, 48, testified that she was having consensual sex with Mr. Stokes in her apartment on East Park Street in Champaign on Sept. 16 when Davis, an on-again, off-again boyfriend, showed up and got angry.

Davis' defense at trial was that he acted in self-defense after being hit by Mr. Stokes. However, he told police he had no recall of beating Mr. Stokes. Davis is pursuing an appeal of his conviction and sentence.

After the injuries were inflicted to Mr. Stokes, Chapple testified, Davis ordered her to help him drag Mr. Stokes out of the apartment building and clean up the blood left behind. They left him outside where he was discovered hours later.

In dismissing Chapple's criminal charges, Lozar said he believed her when she said she did not contribute to Mr. Stokes' injuries.

"She has no motive whatsoever to have hidden the body except that she was scared," he said. "And then she voluntarily came forward and gave a recorded statement to police afterward and testified consistent with that at trial."

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Tags (1):fatal beating

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