An appellate court has rejected a Waukegan man’s request for a new court hearing after he was sentenced to 37 years in prison for going on a shooting spree and shooting at a police officer in North Chicago.
Willie Bell, 31, of Waukegan, was convicted in November 2020 on two counts of aggravated discharge of a firearm at a police officer and two counts of aggravated discharge of a firearm.
The charges stem from several shootings that occurred on April 21, 2019.
The first occurred at Argonne Drive and Jackson Street in North Chicago. Police found several spent casings at the scene around 1:09 a.m.
Shortly after, officers were called to the 1500 block of Broadway Avenue for a report of a second shooting.
Police found a Lyft driver who had his vehicle shot up several times, the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office previously said.
Soon after, they were called to a report of a third shooting near 14th Street and Dugdale Road for a report of shots being fired into a moving vehicle from another moving vehicle.
A police officer located the suspect vehicle around 3:15 a.m. and tried stopping it near 19th Street and Grove Street.
A vehicle pursuit ensued and one of the suspects fired at least two gunshots from the passenger-side window at the pursuing officer, the state’s attorney’s office said.
Bell along with James Towns, of Waukegan, and Raymond Steward, of North Chicago, were subsequently taken into custody and transported to the Lake County Jail.
After Bell was convicted by a jury, he was sentenced to 37 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.
Bell filed an appeal, saying that prosecutors’ preemptory challengers to two African American female jurors were based on race.
He asked for the appellate court to order a new hearing under Batson v. Kentucky because of racial discrimination in the jury process.
The Illinois Second District Appellate Court issued an order last week affirming the Lake County Circuit Court judgment.
“Moving from the trees to the forest, we cannot say that the overall circumstances warrant a conclusion that the trial court’s rejection of the Batson challenges was manifestly erroneous. Therefore, defendant’s appeal fails,” the appellate court said in their 3-0 ruling.
State records show Bell is projected to be released from Pinckneyville Correctional Center in 2050.