Two men twice convicted of murdering a woman in North Chicago are set to be released after the state’s attorney’s office allowed them to plead guilty to burglary and dropped their murder charges.
A spokesperson for the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office said the plea deals were reached Thursday following “extensive plea negotiations with the defendant’s attorneys” and “numerous discussions with the victim’s family and the investigators involved.”
William S. Fillyaw, 44, of North Chicago, and Johnny C. Parker, 38, of Chicago, were both convicted of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder during an April 2009 trial.
Lasondra Shaw, Lebraun Graham, Ernest Hughes and two others were at Shaw’s apartment in the 900 block of 13th Street in North Chicago on June 29, 2007.
Two men, one armed with a shotgun and the other armed with a pistol, broke through the front door of the apartment and began to open fire, prosecutors said.
Shaw was killed and Graham and Hughes were both seriously injured. The two others were uninjured.
During the 2009 trial, a jury convicted Fillyaw and Parker in the incident.
Both men were each sentenced to 75 years in prison for Shaw’s murder and the attempted murders of Hughes and Graham.
Fillyaw and Parker later filed appeals with the Illinois Second District Appellate Court.
The appeals court ruled that Fillyaw’s attorney was ineffective due to him being unfamiliar with certain laws and because he failed to object to a witness statement being admitted at trial.
The appeals court also found that Parker’s constitutional rights were violated by the admission of a witness statement and due to him being tried before a single jury where the prosecution repeatedly relied on Fillyaw’s statement inculpating Parker.
As a result, the Illinois Second District Appellate Court reversed the convictions against Parker and Fillyaw in 2011 and ordered a new trial.
The retrial took place in January 2015 and two separate juries convicted both men of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder.
Lake County Judge Mark Levitt sentenced Fillyaw to 100 years in prison and Parker to 75 years in prison.
“In my time as a judge and in my time as a criminal attorney, the crime scene you left in your wake is singular in its brutality, and that says a lot,” Levitt said in June 2015 during sentencing, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Fillyaw received a longer sentence following his second conviction after Levitt determined he participated in witness tampering during the second trial.
Fillyaw and Parker filed appeals a second time with the Illinois Second District Appellate Court.
Graham — one of the victims in the shooting — testified at the first trial and said he knew Fillyaw and Parker prior to the shooting. He said he was able to identify them as the shooters because they were not wearing masks.
Graham was unavailable for the second trial and Levitt allowed prosecutors to read Graham’s prior testimony.
The appeals court said in their second ruling that the juries had a right to know about an affidavit allegedly signed by Graham that was excluded from evidence.
“I Lebraun Graham write this affidavit to say that I never saw who shot me On 7-17-07 truth be told the North Chicago police lead me to believe William fillyaw was the one who shot me,” the document said.
Since Levitt allowed the prosecution to present Graham’s prior testimony but found the recanting affidavit inadmissible, the appeals court reversed the convictions of Fillyaw and Parker in December 2018 and again ordered for a new trial.
Both men were transferred from the Illinois Department of Corrections back to the Lake County Jail in July 2019.
Court proceedings have been ongoing in Lake County Circuit Court since the case was sent back to Lake County on the second appeal, court records show.
On Thursday, the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office reached a plea deal with Fillyaw and Parker.
Fillyaw and Parker both pleaded guilty to one count of residential burglary, a Class 1 felony, in exchange for their murder and attempted murder charges being dismissed.
Levitt approved the plea agreement and sentenced both men to 15 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections at 50%, with credit for almost 5,300 days already served.
With the credit for time served, both men have already served the 7 ½ year sentence handed down to them on Thursday.
Fillyaw and Parker, who have been in custody since 2007, remain held in the Lake County Jail while awaiting transport to the Illinois Department of Corrections where they are expected to be processed and released upon arrival.
Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart was unavailable for comment Friday.
A spokesperson for the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office said in a statement to Lake and McHenry County Scanner that the only remaining eyewitness in the case recanted their identification of the defendants as the shooters following the second appeal.
“The Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office began a thorough review of the remaining limited evidence. Following numerous discussions with the victim’s family and the investigators involved in this matter, the State’s Attorney’s Office entered into extensive plea negotiations with the defendant’s attorneys,” a spokesperson for the state’s attorney’s office said.