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Man Arrested for Chicago Murder at Downstate Hearing on Different Charge

By Quinn Ford | January 30, 2014 7:49pm
 James Wilson was ordered held without bond Thursday for allegedly killing an Austin man in December.
James Wilson was ordered held without bond Thursday for allegedly killing an Austin man in December.
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Chicago Police Department

COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — On Monday, James Wilson traveled to downstate Urbana to face charges for obstruction of justice.

But when Wilson, 30, arrived at the Champaign County Courthouse, Chicago police arrested him on a far more serious charge: first-degree murder.

On Thursday, Wilson appeared in a Cook County courtroom where prosecutors charged him with pulling the trigger in the December shooting of 33-year-old Barnett Adams.

Prosecutors said Wilson allegedly spotted Adams on Dec. 19 inside a store while driving his car in the 5600 block of West Chicago Avenue in the city's Austin neighborhood.

Wilson went in the store and confronted Adams "about some drugs taken by a relative of [Adams']," said Assistant State's Attorney Allison Sise.

Sise said the two went outside to fight. Both Wilson and Adams swung at each other, but Adams was the first to land a punch, Sise said. After Wilson fell to the ground, he allegedly pulled out a gun and repeatedly shot Adams, hitting him in his leg and shoulder, authorities said.

Adams, of the 600 block of North Waller Avenue, was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. Prosecutors said Wilson was identified as the shooter by multiple witnesses who knew him.

Chicago police sent out an alert after Wilson was identified as the shooter, and Chicago's Fugitive Apprehension Unit learned Wilson was scheduled to appear in Urbana for an unrelated court date. Chicago officers traveled down to the courthouse and arrested him, according to police reports.

In court Thursday, Wilson, who according to police records is a known member of the Four Corner Hustler street gang, was represented by Sam Adam Jr., a Chicago criminal attorney who has represented high-profile clients such as R. Kelly and former-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Prosecutors asked Bourgeois to deny Wilson bail. But Adam argued Wilson, of suburban Forest Park, did not start the fight that led to the shooting and was not a flight risk, proven by his willingness to show up for his court date in Champaign County.

"I've known the defendant myself for the last seven years," Adam said. "He's entitled to bail."

But Bourgeois ultimately disagreed.

"I'm sorry," the judge said. "Your client has a propensity for violence. ... No bail."

Prosecutors also said Wilson was convicted in 2001 on aggravated battery with a firearm and armed robbery charges. He was sentenced to seven years in prison in that case, Sise said.