UPDATED: Charges filed in 2017 murder of Gus Edwards

UPDATED: Charges filed in 2017 murder of Gus Edwards

URBANA — A Champaign man already in custody on gun and drug-related charges has been charged with the murder of Champaign man that happened a year ago.

State's Attorney Julia Rietz filed four counts of first-degree murder Monday against Jamonte Hill, 24, for the Aug. 3, 2017, fatal shooting of Gus Edwards.

In court Monday, Judge John Kennedy set Hill's bond at $5 million.

Hill told Kennedy he wanted to hire his own attorney. The judge told him to be back in court Aug. 28.

Several of Mr. Edwards’ family members were present to see Hill appear via video monitor from the Champaign County satellite jail.

The 53-year-old Champaign man was shot about 8:10 p.m. on that Thursday near the intersection of Beardsley Avenue and North Elm Street, a residential neighborhood about a block north of Spalding Park.

Champaign police said at the time he was the intended target and soon after the killing, obtained surveillance video from a nearby home that showed the shooting.

"The investigation is complete and we have witness identification of Jamonte Hill as the shooter of Gus Edwards," Rietz said of her decision to file the charges now, even though police had focused their investigation on Hill almost immediately.

In court, Assistant State’s Attorney Lindsey Clark said a witness had identified Hill in a photo lineup. Clark also said that “more than one police officer identified him” after seeing the surveillance video.

In late June, WDWS reporter Carol Vorel featured Mr. Edwards' murder in her Cold Case series. A news release from the department said an additional lead came in after Vorel's report that helped lead to the charges.

In that, Champaign police Detective Patrick Funkhouser said Mr. Edwards was on the street when a person got out of a passing car, went up to him and fired several shots. One bullet hit him in the head. The gunman got back in the car and drove off.

Hill, who last lived in the 2500 block of Campbell Drive, has been in custody since April, charged with being an armed habitual criminal, armed violence, possession with intent to deliver heroin and cocaine, and possession of a controlled substance.

He is accused of having the drugs in a car in which he also had a gun on April 24. If convicted of the most serious of those charges, he faces six to 30 years in prison.

Hill was the driver of a car that police followed from a West Beardsley Avenue home that day to the drive-thru of a fast-food restaurant on Anthony Drive near Market Place Mall because they thought a man they wanted in another crime was inside.

Police asked the vehicle occupants to put down the tinted windows and when they did, saw a bag of suspected cocaine in the pocket of the driver's side door.

A search of the car also turned up suspected heroin and a loaded .40-caliber handgun in a shoebox in the car.

Hill is challenging the stop — and the evidence seized — in a suppression proceeding before Judge Roger Webber.

Because of 2012 and 2013 convictions for delivery of a controlled substance and unlawful use of weapons, Hill is not allowed to possess a weapon. He was on parole for unlawful use of weapons by a felon at the time of his April arrest.

In October of last year, Hill was acquitted of selling heroin to a police informant in June 2017.

If convicted of Mr. Edwards' murder, Hill faces 45 to 85 years in prison.

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