Updated 3:35 p.m. Wednesday.
URBANA — Two women testified Wednesday that Ardis Fenn was the man who shot and killed Curtis Mosley Monday night, apparently to keep Mr. Mosley from testifying against him in a Champaign County jury trial.
The testimony came in support of a request by prosecutors to allow the hearsay testimony of Mr. Mosley to be admitted in Fenn's aggravated battery with a firearm trial, which is set to resume Thursday. Hearsay refers to statements made by a third party that are not based on the witness's direct knowledge.
Fenn, 23, whose last known address was in the 700 block of East Main Street, Urbana, was charged in June with aggravated battery with a firearm for allegedly shooting Mr. Mosley in the leg during a robbery attempt. His trial on that charge began with jury selection Monday but was interrupted Tuesday when he did not show up at 9 a.m. at the courthouse — some 12 1/2 hours after Mr. Mosley, 29, had been gunned down in the living room of the apartment at 1102 E. Colorado Ave. that he shared with his girlfriend, her mother and his girlfriend's daughter.
Mother and daughter both said they recognized the partially masked man who burst into their apartment Monday night as Fenn.
Fenn had previously worked at Above & Beyond Detailing shop, 708 E. Main St., U, where Mr. Mosley worked and lived next door to the business, they said.
"He had huge eyes and two teardrop tattoos on his face," said Mr. Mosley's girlfriend, echoing testimony her mother had given minutes earlier.
Police had been looking for Fenn since Monday night. He turned himself in and was booked in at the county jail about 2 p.m. Wednesday, as the hearing to allow the hearsay testimony of Mr. Mosley was going on in Judge Tom Difanis' courtroom.
The girlfriend and her mother also testified that about an hour before the shooting began, Mr. Mosley had received a phone call that upset him.
It came about 7:30 p.m. Monday from a man named "Nubs," later identified as Jakeem Nelson, 20, of Urbana, who said that Fenn would pay Mr. Mosley not to testify. He refused, according to the women. Nelson also worked at the detailing business, the girlfriend said.
Urbana police investigator Dave Smysor also testifed that Nelson admitted to him on Tuesday that he made the call to Mr. Mosley to offer him money not to testify on Fenn's behalf.
"Nelson said Ardis said he'd have tax money coming," Smysor recounted. Nelson also told police that he relayed Mr. Mosley's rejection of the offer to Fenn, whose parting words to Nelson were "All right. Be smooth."
Smysor said Nelson told police that after hearing of Mr. Mosley's death, he erased the record of his calls from his phone.
Difanis ruled that the state had met its burden in showing by a "preponderance of the evidence" that Fenn was responsible for Mr. Mosley's inability to testify.
"He tried to bribe him but that didn't work so he killed him," said Difanis, saying the evidence he heard Wednesday bordered more on the "proof beyond a reasonable doubt" standard required at trial.
As Difanis was making his ruling to admit the hearsay statements of Mr. Mosley, Nelson was in another courtroom being arraigned on charges of bribery, communicating with a witness and obstructing justice. Judge Richard Klaus set his bond at $500,000.
Assistant State's Attorney Steve Ziegler declined to comment on why the state had not yet filed murder charges against Fenn, noting he's still in trial on his other case.
Difanis said he intends on Thursday morning to question individually each of the jurors who were picked Monday to hear Fenn's case to see if any of them have read or heard of the twisted developments that have taken place since Monday evening.