Details of Danville businessman's death emerge at arraignment of 19-year-old

Details of Danville businessman's death emerge at arraignment of 19-year-old

DANVILLE — A 19-year-old man is facing first-degree murder charges in the brutal stabbing of his friend, Danville business owner Jay Hein, on Wednesday morning.

Christopher D. Condon of Danville was also charged Thursday with aggravated arson and concealing a homicidal death.

Condon, who appeared for his arraignment via video camera from the jail, showed no emotion when Vermilion County Associate Judge Mark Goodwin read him the charges and possible penalties — 20 to 60 years in prison for murder, six to 30 years for aggravated arson and two to five years for concealment of a homicidal death.

Goodwin appointed the public defender's office to represent Condon. The judge also set a probable-cause hearing for March 6.

The body of Mr. Hein, 51, was found Wednesday morning at his home in the 3600 block of Bayview Drive in the north Danville subdivision of Bayview Estates, which borders Lake Vermilion.

Danville firefighters were called to the two-story brick house at 9:20 a.m. after a neighbor reported seeing smoke coming from it.

At the hearing, State's Attorney Jacqueline Lacy asked Goodwin to set Condon's bond at $5 million, saying that after firefighters put out a small fire, they discovered Mr. Hein dead.

Police found video surveillance from JJ's 610 Tap in Danville, which Mr. Hein owned, that Lacy said showed Condon and Mr. Hein leaving the tavern together about 4:30 a.m. Wednesday.

According to statements Condon made to police, "they arrived at the residence, where an argument ensued," Lacy said. "The defendant stabbed the victim multiple times in the back and the chest and struck him with a hammer."

The prosecutor said Condon allegedly started the fire in the basement to cover up the killing. He also ransacked the home to make it look like a robbery had occurred.

Lacy said Condon then allegedly stole Mr. Hein's truck, which was found later at a home on Walnut Street. Police found Condon covered in blood, Lacy said.

Assistant Public Defender Alia Horwick argued for a lower bond, noting her client had no prior convictions.

Goodwin set Condon's bond at $5 million, meaning Condon will have to post $500,000 cash to be released.

Some of Mr. Hein's family members who attended the brief hearing wept as Lacy laid out the details.

Emotions ran high before the hearing as well.

A large group, including friends and relatives of Mr. Hein and Condon, gathered outside the courtroom where an argument broke out.

That resulted in one of Condon's relatives being removed from the courthouse and a large police presence in the courtroom during the hearing.

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