A convicted felon was found guilty by a jury Thursday of possessing a gun in Zion as a separate case accusing him of being involved in a shootout in Waukegan, which left him seriously injured, remains pending.
Carnell D. Wesson, 30, of Zion, was charged in March 2022 with armed habitual criminal, three counts of felon in possession of a firearm and four counts of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon.
Officers with the Zion Police Department conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle in March 2022.
Wesson was a passenger in the vehicle during the stop and fled into a nearby home, prosecutors said.
A search of the vehicle was conducted and officers located two firearms under the driver’s seat.
Prosecutors said Wesson eventually came out of the home and officers took him into custody.
A jury trial began on Tuesday presided by Lake County Judge Christopher Lombardo.
Police officers testified at the trial that they observed the backseat passenger, Wesson, appear to reach into the front area of the vehicle and hand something to the driver prior to officers approaching the car.
Forensic witnesses called by prosecutors testified that Wesson’s DNA was found on one of the guns recovered by police.
The jury began deliberations in the case Thursday and returned a verdict of guilty for one count of armed habitual criminal, a Class X felony, and one count of unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, a Class 2 felony.
The jury found Wesson not guilty on the charges alleging he possessed the second gun recovered.
Attorney Robert T. Ritacca, who represents Wesson, told Lake and McHenry County Scanner that he requested a mistrial after the jury, during their deliberations, found a small amount of marijuana in the bag where the guns were found.
Ritacca said he does not know how the police failed to thoroughly search the bag or how it made it all the way to the jury room without inspection.
Ritacca said he respects the jury’s decision but will file a motion for a new trial. “I believe the jury finding materials not in evidence greatly prejudiced Carnell from a fair trial.”
Wesson faces a sentence of six to 30 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.
Wesson posted 10% of a $150,000 bond following his arrest. While out on bond, he was charged with armed habitual criminal, aggravated discharge of a firearm and felon in possession of a firearm.
The charges stemmed from a shooting near Cornelia Avenue and Drew Lane in Waukegan around 7:30 p.m. on December 12.
Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Jeffery Facklam said in February that Wesson was identified by witnesses as being at the scene.
Wesson reportedly got into an argument with another man just prior to the gunshots being heard.
Shell casings were located at the scene and the two men suffered gunshot wounds. Wesson was seriously injured and was hospitalized for a month.
The incident was captured on surveillance camera and a person wearing clothes matching Wesson’s clothing was seen firing a gun, Facklam said.
Facklam said it is unclear who fired their gun first, Wesson or the other man, but witnesses described Wesson as being the one who was upset and arguing with the man just prior to the shooting.
After Wesson was charged in that case, a judge ordered him held on a $1.25 million bond, which was revoked Thursday after the guilty verdict in the Zion case.
“We appreciate the effective work of the Zion Police Department and the Northeastern Illinois Regional Crime Lab. Once again, our prosecutors were able to turn a successful investigation into a “guilty” verdict,” Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said.
“We also see from these two cases that using a cash bond system makes our communities less safe. Under the SAFE-T Act, we would have sought detention for the March 2022 incident, and he could not have committed the December 2022 shooting had detention been ordered,” Rinehart said.
The Waukegan shooting case remains pending. A status hearing in the Zion case is scheduled for October 16.