URBANA — An Urbana 18-year-old was fatally shot with his own handgun by a man who wanted to rob him of that gun, a prosecutor said Thursday.
In opening statements in the murder trial of Michael Chatman, 21, of Montgomery, Assistant State’s Attorney Joel Fletcher said Chatman and co-defendant Michael Simmons, 23, plotted to rob Ricky Green of his gun, and when they confronted him, Chatman ended up shooting him twice.
Mr. Green was mortally wounded March 23, 2018, in the first block of Juniper Drive in the Shadowwood Mobile Home Park in north Champaign just east of Market Street and south of Interstate 74.
Chatman was arrested in early February 2020. Simmons, whom prosecutors want to hold accountable for the actions of Chatman, was arrested about three weeks later and is awaiting trial.
If convicted of killing Mr. Green during a robbery, Chatman could face life in prison.
His court-appointed attorney, Kevin Nolan of Champaign, told jurors that the state would not be able to prove there was a robbery or that his client was responsible for Mr. Green’s death.
“It is not your job to take a tragedy and turn it into something else,” said Nolan, who said prosecutors expected them to engage in “rank speculation.”
Fletcher said Mr. Green was hit by two bullets, either of which could have caused his death.
Champaign police Sgt. Justin Prosser responded to the call from a resident who reported hearing two gunshots about 12:11 a.m. that Friday. The woman testified that the shots came after she heard males speaking loudly outside her home.
“I think they were upset,” she testified, adding that seconds later, she heard two shots, then someone running away. She saw legs but could not identify the runner.
Prosser said he found Mr. Green in the middle of the road on Juniper Drive, his clothing already bloody. Prosser discovered he had been shot in the groin and applied pressure to the wound until paramedics arrived.
Other officers testified that they were already in the mobile-home park on other calls when they also heard the shots.
Calvin Wilson, a resident of the park, testified that he had flagged down police to ask them to remove Chatman’s mother from his residence after they had a dispute. Ultimately, Wilson gave police the description of a car that Chatman and Simmons had been in outside his house late on March 22.
Former Champaign police Officer Isidro Garcia testified that he spotted the car, which had a woman in the passenger seat and two or three Black males in the back. As he turned his squad around to get behind it, the vehicle took off.
He and Officer Nathanael Epling caught up with the car elsewhere in the mobile-home park, but only Kotia Fairman was still inside when they got it stopped.
Officer Timothy Atteberry, who arrived to help Garcia and Epling, said Fairman was compliant but did not want to answer questions.
Fairman testified earlier that Chatman had picked her up in her car on March 22 and that there were three or four men in it she didn’t know. They drove to a trailer court in Champaign to be dropped off, she said, then got out. She then got in to drive.
Atteberry testified that he searched the car and found several pieces of clothing, a revolver with wooden grips and a dumped-over cup of soda on the rear passenger floorboard. In the driver’s door was a photo ID for Simmons.
It was while he was dealing with Fairman and her car that Atteberry and the other officers heard the shots on nearby Juniper Drive, where Mr. Green lay dying.
In his opening statement, Fletcher said the revolver found in Fairman’s car was not the same gun that killed Mr. Green. Police learned that the casings found near his body matched those from another incident when Mr. Green had fired his gun into the air.
“Mr. Green was shot and killed with his own gun,” Fletcher said.
In other testimony Thursday, Alexandrinique Anderson testified that she was home alone when Chatman, a neighbor, showed up at her West Bradley Avenue house on March 23 asking to use her phone. She agreed.
She said he had no shoes or shirt on but was wearing jeans. He told her “he had some type of altercation with some Mexicans, and they were trying to attack, and he needed to defend himself, and he shot back, and he didn’t know if he hit anyone and just needed to call someone.”
Anderson’s younger sister, Feriana, testified that she talked to Chatman later when he was in the satellite jail following his arrest and he instructed her to “tell them (police) he was at my residence around the time the murder occurred.”
Feriana Anderson said she hung up on him after he made the request.
Fletcher told jurors they would hear recordings of other calls that Chatman made from the county jail that they think implicate him in Mr. Green’s murder.
The trial is expected to stretch into the middle of next week. Judge Randy Rosenbaum is presiding.