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Wilson pleads to second-degree murder in house party shooting

Rich Egger

An estimated 150 to 200 people were at the party at 533 N. Johnson St. in Macomb that night, where a fight led to shots being fired. One person was killed and ten were wounded.

A Calumet Park man pleaded guilty Wednesday to an amended charge of second-degree murder in a fatal Macomb house party shooting earlier this year.

Demond Wilson Jr., 26, previously was charged with three counts first-degree murder, aggravated battery with a firearm, and aggravated discharge, but McDonough County State’s Attorney Matt Kwacala filed the amended charge of second-degree murder on Monday.

All other charges were dropped.

Wilson’s attorney, Scott McClintock, told TSPR the plea was “disappointing” and he would have liked to see the case go to trial.

McClintock said there was no proof of first-degree murder without justification of self-defense.

Last week, Wilson waived his right to a jury trial.

Second-degree murder is a Class 1 felony that carries a sentence of four to 20 years in prison, while first-degree murder is a Class X felony that carries a sentence of 20 years to life.

Family members of Wilson who declined to be named gathered at the McDonough County courthouse for the plea, saying Wilson has been misrepresented in the media.

Police were called to 533 N. Johnson St. in the early hours of March 25 for a report of shots fired.

Jerman Beathea, 26, of Chicago, was pronounced dead at the scene. He suffered gunshot wounds to the chest, abdomen, and extremities.

Ten others were wounded in the shooting -- including Wilson. He was taken to McDonough District Hospital for treatment of gunshot wounds to the abdomen and wrist and then to OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria, where he was hospitalized for six days.

Following Wilson’s plea, the state presented details to the judge about how law enforcement would have testified if the case went to trial.

An estimated 150 to 200 people were at the party at the single-family residence that night, where a fight led to shots being fired.

Police obtained multiple videos from the house party, including one with someone saying “he’s got a gun, he’s got a gun.” But the video of the dimly lit, crowded space does not reveal who.

Surveillance footage also shows a large number of people quickly left the house after the fight. Shortly after that, 15 shots were fired – followed by three more shots ten seconds later.

While he was hospitalized, Wilson told investigators he took his gun to the party, but did not remember shooting it.

Both Beathea and Wilson were gun owners with valid FOID cards and concealed carry permits. After the shooting, only the gun owned by Wilson was recovered.

Investigators also found Beathea had either fired a gun or had been in close proximity to firing a gun at the party.

Beathea’s blood alcohol was .08 at the time of his death, while Wilson’s was .157 around three hours after the shooting.

They did not know each other prior to the house party, and neither had ties to McDonough County or Macomb.

A sentencing for Wilson is scheduled for Jan. 10, 2024.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Jane Carlson is TSPR's regional reporter.