URBANA — A California man found to have a loaded gun and ammunition for it in Rantoul in November faces a sentence of three to 14 years in prison when sentenced next month.
A Champaign County jury deliberated less than an hour Wednesday before convicting J.W. Gayfield, 33, who listed an address in Inglewood, Calif., of aggravated unlawful use of weapons.
Judge Tom Difanis set sentencing for Feb. 29 for Gayfield, who was initially stopped in Rantoul because he was driving a murder victim's car — a fact that was kept from the jury because of its potential prejudicial effect.
According to testimony in the two-day trial, on Nov. 2, a Rantoul police officer ran the California license plates on the Honda Accord, which registered to a woman who had been murdered Oct. 19 in Inglewood. The officer learned that the car was wanted for processing and the occupant might be armed.
The jury heard a shortened version of that, which suggested the officer had safety concerns so he followed the car, and pulled it over for speeding on the village's east side.
Gayfield, the driver of the car, was found to have a loaded 9 mm Ruger in his breast pocket and 20 rounds of ammunition in his pants pocket. Because of prior convictions for possession of a controlled substance and possession of weapon by a felon, Gayfield is not allowed to carry a gun or ammunition.
Also on Tuesday, authorities took a DNA sample from Gayfield, who is considered a suspect in the California homicide case. A search warrant for the sample had been signed by Champaign County Judge Jeff Ford.
Assistant State's Attorney Troy Lozar prosecuted Gayfield. He was represented by Assistant Public Defender Jamie Propps.