A North Chicago man is in federal custody in connection to a murder in Waukegan last month. He had been released from prison less than a year ago after prosecutors reduced his charges in a 2007 murder.
Sergio Berrios, 42, of Beach Park, was found dead around 12:05 a.m. on October 3 in the 1300 block of Chestnut Street in Waukegan.
Officers responding to a call of shots fired located a vehicle parked in the driveway of a home that had been shot numerous times, according to Waukegan Deputy Police Chief Joe Florip.
Officers discovered that Berrios, who appeared to be in the driver’s seat of the vehicle, had been shot.
Berrios had been shot numerous times and paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene, Florip said.
Over 20 shell casings were spotted on the street in front of the residence.
Days after the homicide, Jamonte J. Davis, 24, of Zion, was charged in Lake County Circuit Court with one count of first-degree murder in connection with the shooting.
Davis and a second person, William Fillyaw, 45, of North Chicago, were charged late last month in federal court with arson of a vehicle and use of arson in furtherance of another felony in connection to the shooting.
An affidavit filed in federal court by an FBI special agent said that surveillance video showed a gray Dodge Charger arrive in the 1300 block of Chestnut Street at the time of the murder.
At least two subjects exited the vehicle and discharged guns numerous times into Berrios’ vehicle.
The video surveillance showed one of the two suspects drop a cell phone onto the ground as they ran up to the victim and started shooting, the affidavit said.
Investigators found two cell phones laying in the driveway near the victim’s vehicle.
They analyzed the phones recovered at the crime scene and learned they both belonged to Davis.
Investigators also obtained location data for Fillyaw’s phone which showed it was at the location of the homicide when it occurred, the affidavit said.
Davis had texted someone named “Will,” later identified as Fillyaw, in the hours before the shooting and the two discussed going to Chicago to purchase the stolen Dodge, according to the affidavit.
The surveillance video showed the Dodge, which was stolen out of Chicago on October 1, fleeing the scene at a high rate of speed.
The video also showed a black conversion van with a Wisconsin license plate fleeing the scene and heading toward Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The black conversion van pulled into a Shell gas station in Kenosha around 12:36 a.m. and surveillance video showed Fillyaw get out of the driver’s seat and walk into the store where he purchased a gas can and gasoline, the affidavit said.
Fillyaw then allegedly left in the van and drove toward nearby Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin.
The Dodge was then spotted around 12:45 a.m. by an automatic license plate reader traveling at Sheridan Road and Highway 165 in Pleasant Prairie.
Around 35 minutes later, the Dodge was found fully engulfed in flames in Pleasant Prairie.
No one was inside or near the car, which had all its doors open, and officers found two different caliber shell casings in and around the vehicle.
The casings matched the caliber used in the fatal shooting, the affidavit said.
The black conversion van was also identified as being in the area of the burn site.
The FBI agent said in the affidavit that there is probable cause to believe Davis and Fillyaw committed arson based on the evidence.
Davis has been charged with the murder itself, while Fillyaw has not yet been charged with the murder of Berrios.
The affidavit indicated Davis was one of the shooters but it did not say whether Fillyaw was also believed to be one of the shooters.
In 2009, Fillyaw and a co-defendant were convicted of murdering a woman in North Chicago in June 2007.
Fillyaw was sentenced to 75 years in prison but appealed the conviction.
The Illinois Second District Appellate Court reversed the conviction against Fillyaw in 2011 and ordered a new trial.
The retrial took place in January 2015 and a jury again convicted Fillyaw.
A judge sentenced Fillyaw to 100 years in prison, which was longer than his first sentence because the judge determined Fillyaw participated in witness tampering during the second trial.
Fillyaw filed an appeal a second time with the Illinois Second District Appellate Court, which reversed the conviction due to a trial technicality and ordered a new trial.
The Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office reached a plea deal last December with Fillyaw where he pleaded guilty to one count of residential burglary, a Class 1 felony, in exchange for his murder and attempted murder charges being dismissed.
A judge 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, the 7 ½ year sentence was considered served and Fillyaw was released on parole last December.
The Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office at the time defended the plea deal that Fillyaw was given, saying that the only remaining eyewitness in the case recanted their admissions following Fillyaw’s second appeal.
Following Fillyaw’s latest arrest for arson in connection with last month’s Waukegan murder, Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart stood by his office’s December plea deal that allowed Fillyaw to be released from prison.
“Regarding the earlier case from 2007, Mr. Fillyaw’s conviction was twice reversed for mistakes that prosecutors made in 2009 and 2015. Two reversals is almost unprecedented. Those mistakes and the passage of over 15 years meant that there was not sufficient evidence such that we could bring Mr. Fillyaw to trial on murder charges,” Rinehart told Lake and McHenry County Scanner.
“The fact that he pled guilty to anything at all saved the taxpayers money from a possible lawsuit, and we consulted extensively with the victims’ family,” Rinehart said.
Rinehart said he became state’s attorney to instill a “culture that wouldn’t use improper evidence against defendants.”
“… I am proud of our record since I came into office in 2020. I am proud we are breaking from the past and securing ethical, final convictions that bring closure to victims,” he said.
Federal court records show Fillyaw remains held without bond on the arson charges. Davis remains held in the Lake County Jail on a $5 million bond on the murder charge.