DECATUR — A jury took less than an hour Wednesday to convict Charles L. Fitzpatrick of attempted first-degree murder for the shooting of a Decatur motorist that left the man with three bullet wounds.
Fitzpatrick, 27, of Decatur, was also convicted of aggravated battery with a firearm, and the jury found he had inflicted great bodily harm on his victim, 71-year-old retired educator Rafael Graham. Fitzpatrick now faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison when he is sentenced Sept. 5 by Judge James Coryell.
The three-day trial began Monday, and jurors heard how Fitzpatrick had been among a group of men who stopped Graham’s car on North Monroe Street near West Center Street as he drove home the evening of Oct. 16.
Fitzpatrick had demanded money and when Graham refused, he fired four shots, three of which hit Graham as he sat helpless in the driver’s seat.
But Fitzpatrick, through his public defender, Scott Rueter, had tried to convince the jury there was no firm evidence placing him at the scene of the crime or firing a gun.
Graham, under cross-examination from Rueter, had told the jury he never saw a gun in Fitzpatrick’s hand and Rueter had portrayed Graham’s identification of Fitzpatrick as unreliable.
But under questioning from First Assistant State’s Attorney Nichole Kroncke, Graham said Fitzpatrick had leaned his face through the rolled down passenger window and threatened him.
Seated just a few feet from the jury box, Graham told them he then heard “pop, pop, pop, pop” and staggered out of his car to see a spent bullet in a pool of his blood on the driver’s seat.
Two slugs remain lodged in his torso — too dangerous for doctors to remove — and one of them lacerated his liver, he said, as he described his wounds for jurors who saw pictures of the scars shown on a large TV monitor.
Graham said he was looking right at Fitzpatrick and had no doubt in his mind who had tried to kill him on that evening that turned a drive home into a nightmare he can’t forget.
When Kroncke asked him if he was convinced beyond a doubt that Fitzpatrick was the gunman, Graham replied: “I am certain. Certain.”