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Thursday, September 19, 2019

Mistrial declared in Fields' murder trial; Prosecution witness utters forbidden 'shotgun'


By Record News | Jul 26, 2018

BELLEVILLE – One word from witness Michael Taylor, age 16, spoiled the murder trial of David Fields in St. Clair County Circuit Court.  

Circuit Judge Robert Haida stopped the proceedings and declared a mistrial on Thursday after the teen started testifying about a shotgun.

Haida had ruled in June that witnesses would not testify about a shotgun because the death of Carl Silas didn’t involve one. 

Silas died on Dec. 30, 2016, before dawn, in an apartment on West Boulevard in Belleville. Two bullets struck him. 

At trial on Tuesday, state police evidence officer Virgil Perkins testified that the bullets came from a weapon in the family of AK-47s. 

He said he took a blanket off Silas and found a shell casing. 

Defense counsel Ryan Neal had alerted jurors to this discovery in his opening argument earlier that day. 

Neal asked jurors, “How did that shell casing get there?” 

Along with a casing under the blanket, Perkins found another on the floor.  

Prosecutor Charles Colburn asked him if the television was on, and he said yes. 

Colburn asked what he found in a bassinette. 

He said he found a Taurus 40 caliber handgun. 

Colburn handed him a box and he opened it. 

Colburn asked if it was the firearm he found, and he said yes. 

Colburn asked if Christmas tree lights were on, and he said yes. 

Colburn showed autopsy pictures, and a juror wiped an eye. 

For Fields, Brittany Kimble showed pictures of blood on walls and ceiling. 

With one picture she said, “This is a lot.” 

She asked Perkins if he took any swabs, and he said no. 

She asked if he found blood on a windowsill, and he said yes. 

She asked if there was a bullet under the cover when he moved it, and he said yes. 

She asked if Silas’s head faced the headboard or away from it. 

He said, “He was at the foot.” 

She showed a picture of blood on a carpet and asked if he took swabs.    

He said no. 

She asked if he compared Silas’s blood to the blood on the wall and carpet. 

He said no. 

She asked if he found a wallet in the kitchen, and he said he didn’t collect it. 

She said, “You were never told about that wallet being in that apartment, correct?” 

He said correct. 

She asked if he processed a 2013 Mustang belonging to Tamara Long. 

He said he did. 

She said, “Nothing of evidentiary value was found?” 

He said correct. 

She asked if there were pillows on the bed. 

He said no. 

She asked if he analyzed the blood pattern. 

He said he didn’t. 

Fingerprint expert Amy Hart testified that she analyzed a Taurus 40 and found no prints suitable for comparison. 

Firearm expert Aaron Horn testified that he found no positive associations between the Taurus and the fired evidence. 

He set the cartridge length at 39 millimeters and the casing diameter at 7.62. 

Colburn asked if both casings came from the same firearm. 

Horn said he couldn’t make that conclusion. 

Colburn asked if they could have come from the Taurus. 

He said no. 

Neal asked Horn if the 7.62 casings were ever connected to a specific gun. 

Horn said no. 

Neal showed a picture of the Taurus and said, “This wasn’t the gun that fired the two spent shell casings, correct?” 

Horn said correct. 

An odd interruption followed. 

Colburn called Shiloh police officer Jessie Phillips and left him at the witness stand. 

Colburn approached the bench, as did Neal and Kimble. 

After they whispered a moment, Haida excused the jury and declared a break. 

When proceedings resumed, Phillips had vanished. 

Colburn called Belleville police sergeant Karl Kraft to introduce video from a Circle K station showing Fields at 8:02 p.m. the night before the murder. 

Neal asked Kraft if the station and Silas’s apartment were a couple miles apart. 

Kraft said yes. 

Neal asked if the video was at least nine hours before the 911 call. 

Kraft said yes. 

Neal asked if Fields’s children lived near the Circle K. 

Kraft said yes. 

On Wednesday morning, Colburn called Sprint record custodian Jeffrey Strohm to introduce records for a 618 number from Dec. 23 to Dec. 30, 2016. 

Strohm explained to jurors the meaning of 14 columns on a spreadsheet. 

Kimble asked him if a number could show on a device without leaving a record. 

He said that was right. 

She asked if a call doesn’t always connect to the closest tower. 

He said that was correct. 

Haida declared a lunch break. 

After it, Colburn called sheriff’s deputy Chris Fitch. 

He testified that he arrived at the apartment and observed a lot of people screaming, yelling and crying. 

Colburn asked if he met with Jamie Lott, mother of Silas’s children, who shared a bedroom with Silas. 

Kimble objected to it as hearsay, and Haida overruled her. 

Fitch said, “She said that Day Day had shot her boyfriend.” 

He said, “She said Day Day was David Fields. She said he was her cousin.” 

He said she told him Fields fired a shot and said, “Where’s the money?” 

He said she told him Fields fired again. 

He said she told him Fields wore a ski mask. 

He said, “She said she pleaded with him not to shoot her or her baby who was laying with him in the bed.” 

He said she told him she recognized Fields by his eyes and voice. 

He said she told him Fields entered with another person. 

He said she told him Fields said, “Let’s go,” and they left. 

Colburn asked Fitch if he met with Latisha Traylor, mother of Jamie Lott. 

Fitch said he did, and she told him she woke up and a guy came in with a gun. 

He said she told him she tried to grab the gun. 

He said she told him she recognized Fields by his voice. 

Colburn asked if she said she was related to Fields. 

Fitch said she told him Fields was a family member. 

He said she told him his face was covered with a mask and she knew his eyes. 

He said she told him he took her purse. 

Kimble asked Fitch if Lott indicated that Fields wore gloves.  

He said no. 

She asked if Lott said she saw her mother wrestling for the gun.  

He said no.

She asked if Traylor never told him anything Fields said.  

He said correct. 

She said, “She never said he said let’s go?”  

He said correct. 

She asked if Traylor described the second assailant. 

He said no. 

Traylor testified next, saying Fields is a nephew she has known all her life. 

She apparently meant all his life, for he is 22 and she is about twice that. 

She said, “I was laying in my bed and I heard two gunshots.” 

She said she got up and found Fields standing over Silas with a long gun. 

She said Fields wore a red bandana. 

Kimble said, “It was dark outside. Was it dark inside?” 

Traylor said a light was on in her room. 

Kimble asked if lights were on in Lott’s room, the living room, or the kitchen. 

Traylor said no. 

She said, “He had a long gun. I don’t know what kind of gun it was.” 

Kimble told her she could have called 911 from a phone in her room, and asked why she left the room. 

Traylor said, “I wanted to see what was going on in my house.” 

Kimble asked if she saw Fields often. 

Traylor said, “Not every day or every other week.” 

Kimble asked what year he was born. 

She said she didn’t know. 

Kimble asked what high school he went to. 

She said, “Belleville? I don’t know.” 

Kimble said, “You didn’t hear them break in the door?” 

She said, “I had my door closed…I was in a deep sleep. I didn’t hear nobody.” 

Kimble told her she testified that she handed her purse to Fields. 

Kimble asked what he was wearing. 

She said she didn’t know. 

Kimble asked if she said she knew his hair texture. 

She said she didn’t and added, “I saw his eyes and his nose.” 

Kimble told her she said she recognized him by his walk. 

Kimble asked if he has a limp. 

Traylor said, “He just has like a cool walk, a young dude’s walk.” 

Kimble said, “You’ve seen others walk like that?”  

Traylor said yes. 

Haida sent the jury out and said trial had run ahead of schedule. 

He asked Kimble if she wanted to start Fields’s defense Friday afternoon rather than Monday morning as he had planned. 

She said she would start Friday. 

Instead, Fields must wait. 

He has stayed in county jail since turning himself in on the day of the crime.

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