Judge: Gas-station footage shows confrontation before shooting
WATSEKA — Surveillance footage from a Gilman gas station clearly shows a confrontation between the clerk and the man accused of later shooting him to death, an Iroquois County judge ruled Thursday.
Iroquois County Judge Gordon Lustfeldt issued an order and opinion against a motion filed last month by the attorney representing Andrew M. Condon, 34, of Ashkum, who is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Jonathan D. Rubin, 27, of Danforth.
The motion, filed by attorney Ed Glazar Jr. of Kankakee, claimed that Iroquois County investigators made statements "with reckless disregard for the truth" to two judges when they were obtaining search warrants for Condon's farmstead.
It claimed there was no evidence that "any type of animated verbal confrontation" occurred prior to the shooting — as investigators claimed — and asked for a hearing to consider the validity of the search warrants.
Lustfeldt denied the motion, saying that video footage from the store "does show a confrontation between the defendant and the clerk." Lustfeldt added that no evidence exists to back up Glazar's assertion that police lied to judges when they said a man told them he overheard Condon threaten to harm Mr. Rubin.
The case was continued to 1:30 p.m. June 20. At the next hearing, Lustfeldt will consider a motion for a ballistic examination, which Glazar plans to file.
Condon, who remains at the Iroquois County Jail on a $1 million bond, is accused of fatally shooting Mr. Rubin during the early-morning hours of Oct. 27, 2012, at the Shell gas station in Gilman.
State's Attorney Jim Devine said last November that Condon appeared "visibly upset" and "made a scene" when Mr. Rubin denied him the sale of a pack of cigarettes. About two hours later, Condon allegedly returned with a handgun and shot Mr. Rubin to death.
Iroquois County investigators obtained three search warrants for Condon's property based on video footage and a recorded statement from a witness.
Glazar claimed in his motion that "the video referred to in all three complaints for search warrants clearly does not show the defendant getting into any type of animated verbal confrontation, and no reasonable person would conclude that statement to be the truth." He also claimed that "nowhere in the witness' audio-taped statement to police does he make the statement that he overheard the defendant threaten the victim with bodily harm."
Lustfeldt said Thursday that the video recording — which has no sound — "clearly shows a problem in the interaction between the defendant and the clerk, so much so that (the witness) felt obligated to intervene, by coming back and standing by the counter.
"The defendant can be seen talking to both men and gesturing repeatedly with his right hand," he wrote. "Defendant then leaves without buying anything, but (the witness) stays at the counter talking to the clerk. Later, (the witness) goes to the back of the store, only to be followed there by the defendant and there is an apparent confrontation between them. The pictures submitted do not give the full flavor of it, and while that event seems to have ended peaceably, it clearly didn't start out that way. A fair viewing of the DVD is that (the witness) was trying to help the clerk and to calm the situation."
The witness later told police that Condon was angry and verbally abusive to Mr. Rubin and Mr. Rubin was visibly scared, Lustfeldt said, referring to the witness' Nov. 1 statement to police.
"He goes on to say that when the defendant met up with him at the back of the store, the defendant was belligerent and profane," Lustfeldt said.
"The DVD appears to confirm (the witness') statements in these regards."
Lustfeldt said it is true that the witness' statement to police does not say he overheard Condon threaten to harm Mr. Rubin, but "it is clear that that was not the only time (the witness) talked to the police." Lustfeldt noted that another interview occurred earlier but was not "in the record."
"This claim for relief is based on the contention that if (the witness) didn't say it in his Nov. 1 statement, then he never said it at all," Lustfeldt said. "This court cannot make that assumption."
Condon was arrested on a warrant for murder charges Nov. 9, about a week after police twice searched his 3-acre farm about 21/2 miles west of Ashkum, where they found bullets and shell casings determined to be from a Glock 9-mm handgun — a forensic match with the murder weapon, Devine said.
According to court records, police also seized various articles of clothing, a mask found in a pickup truck, 70 rounds of ammunition, a 9mm handgun, his and his wife's cellphones, cigarettes and cigarette packages, five cannabis sativa plants, hundreds of prescription pills and drug paraphernalia, along with 103 projectiles, 66 partial projectiles and projectile fragments, and nine shell casings, all recovered from an earthen berm that Condon had used as a backstop for target practice.