DECATUR - Three suspects who were arrested last week in connection with the shooting death of 24-year-old Billy J. Rutherford were each charged Thursday with three counts of first-degree murder.
Documents released by the Macon County State's Attorney's Office after the filings revealed details of the homicide, including possible motives.
Shitavious J. Cook, 15, was arraigned Thursday morning on his charges, punishable by up to life imprisonment.
He also was charged with attempted first-degree murder and aggravated battery with a firearm for a shotgun attack on a motorcyclist who Cook mistakenly believed to be Rutherford.
Felton T. Estes, 28, and Demeco D. Hill, 35, are each facing 20 to 60 years in prison, with a 15-year enhancement for carrying a firearm during the crime. Estes and Hill are due in Macon County Circuit Court this morning for their arraignments.
On his first-degree murder charges, Cook is facing 20 to 60 years plus 25 years to life for shooting a firearm that was the proximate cause of death. If it can be proved that an individual personally fired a firearm that is a cause of a death, the larger enhancement of 25 to life is filed.
Cook allegedly admitted to police that he shot Rutherford with a shotgun.
According to Illinois law, defendants who are 15 and older are automatically tried as adults when charged with first-degree murder or any charges arising out of the same incident.
At 8:11 p.m. Aug. 29, Decatur police officers were sent to the alley adjacent to 1317 N. Woodford St. on reports of gunshots fired and an injured man on the ground. An officer found "Rutherford's deceased body lying in the alley" with "at least one defect in the face/head." Rutherford was pronounced dead at the scene at 9:20 p.m.
According to statements made to the police, Rutherford was shot because he "had been stealing drug-related money from Estes, and Rutherford had made threats against Cook's life," according to a complaint for an arrest warrant. The warrant request was approved by a judge the morning of Aug. 31; Estes and Hill were apprehended that night.
Police were told by Cook that shortly before the shooting, Estes and Hill were sitting in Hill's blue-and-silver truck, parked in the driveway of 1317 N. Woodford St. Hill was in possession of a black 9 mm Beretta pistol.
Estes and Hill made statements about harming Rutherford prior to his death, and all three knew Rutherford was on his way to 1317 N. Woodford St., according to the document.
When Rutherford arrived, he walked from the front of the house to the alley while he talked on a phone. Police were told Hill and Estes followed Rutherford toward the alley, with Hill in the lead. Multiple gunshots were heard, with the sounds apparently originating in the alley.
During an interview with police, Cook said he went to the alley after hearing the gunshots. He saw Rutherford lying on the ground, with Estes near his body. Hill was not in sight.
Cook told police that Estes then gave him a shotgun and told him to shoot Rutherford. Cook then fired one round at Rutherford.
Police were told Hill fired the initial gunshots in the alley.
Cook told police during his interview that they could find spent 9 mm casings at the scene. The police had already located three 9 mm casings, a detail they had not released.
During his arraignment, Cook, a 5-foot-6-inch, 140-pound teen, sat in the jury box in the custody of juvenile probation officers. Associate Judge James Coryell read the charges to him. When the judge asked Cook if he planned to hire his own lawyer or wanted to have a public defender appointed for him, he stood up and said he wanted the judge to appoint a lawyer.
Then Cook walked slowly out of the courtroom, shaking his head.
Cook, who was arrested 23½ hours after the shooting, admitted to police that he shot Rutherford with a shotgun but said he did so after Rutherford was dead, according to a sworn statement by a police officer.
During a search of Cook's home, officers recovered a double-barreled shotgun that contained one spent casing and one live round.
Cook's charges of attempted murder and aggravated battery stem from an incident that occurred five days before the homicide.
At 11:54 p.m. Aug. 24, a 31-year-old man was shot while riding his motorcycle east on Grand Avenue, at Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. The victim told police he heard that a 15-year-old male, nicknamed "Tay," was the shooter.
Cook, whose nickname is "Tay," admitted he shot a shotgun at a man who was riding a black-and-yellow motorcycle at Grand Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. The victim suffered injuries to his right leg and side.
Cook said the intended target of that shooting was Rutherford, who he said had made threats against his life.
The attempted murder charge, a Class X felony, is punishable by six to 30 years, plus 25 years to life. The aggravated battery with a firearm charge carries a six- to 30-year sentence.
Cook, who has a residential burglary case pending in juvenile court, is scheduled to appear for his preliminary hearing in Macon County Circuit Court on Sept. 21. He is being held on a $5 million bond in a nearby juvenile detention facility.
Hill is being held without bond in the Macon County Jail. Estes, who is in custody on numerous unrelated additional charges, is being held on $5.1 million bond.