The U.S. Attorney’s Office will examine three recent Madison County murders to see if any of the cases should be prosecuted federally, which would allow for the death penalty to be sought as a sentencing punishment.
Representatives of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Illinois will be looking into the murders of:
- Randy Gori, an attorney who was killed Jan. 4 at his home in an unincorporated area near Edwardsville. Timothy Banowetz, 28, of Wentzville, Mo. has been charged in Gori’s death. “In my 22-year career as a law-enforcement official, I’ve seen a lot of gruesome cases but this one elevates to the top of heinous and senseless crimes,” said Capt. David Vucich of the Madison County Sheriff’s Office and deputy commander of the area’s Major Case Squad.
- Shari Yates; her son, Andrew Brooks; and John McMillian on Dec. 19 in Bethalto. Brady Witcher, 31, and Brittany McMillian, 28, both of Birmingham, Ala., have each been charged with nine counts of first-degree murder in the killings.
- Jason Thomas on Jan. 9 in Granite City. Kadeem Noland, 27, of St. Louis, and Kristine Mills of Granite City are charged in his death. The Madison County State’s Attorney’s Office called the crime “a senseless murder.”
Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons said he is happy to have federal authorities taking a look at the cases.
“We are grateful the U.S. attorney has agreed to review the three cases we have referred,” Gibbons said in a statement on social media.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said all three case warrant further examination.“The murder of Randy Gori was a senseless and brutal crime. We at the U.S. Attorney’s Office join the community in shock, grief and outrage,” representatives of the office said in a statement. “Other area homicides described in recent media accounts also appear to be heinous acts of cruelty that demand justice.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said that it cannot assess whether federal law has been violated until facts from the investigations are presented.
Staff with the U.S. Attorney’s Office noted that Congress has enacted at least 60 criminal statues where murder or causing the death of another can be prosecuted federally. They said the laws giving federal jurisdiction in murder cases fall into three general categories:
- Status of the alleged perpetrator or victim, such as when a federal official or office holder is killed.
- Location of the death, such as being on federal land.
- During the commission of another federal offense, such as a bank robbery.
“Not all of these crimes are punishable by the death penalty,” federal prosecutors said in their statement. “Nor does a homicide automatically become a death-eligible federal crime simply because someone crossed a state line.
“U.S. attorneys must follow the federal death penalty protocol when they bring charges that carry the death penalty as a possible punishment. This procedure requires the case to be reviewed and evaluated by the Capital Case Section with the Criminal Division of the Justice Department in Washington D.C. The process culminates in a decision by the attorney general of the United States to seek or not to seek the death penalty against an individual defendant. Those decisions are based upon the specific facts and laws applicable to the case, with the goal of ensuring that the federal capital sentencing laws are applicable to the case, with the goal of ensuring that the federal capital sentencing laws are applied consistently and fairly across the nation.
“We have a long history of working with our state and local law enforcement partners to achieve just outcomes in southern Illinois, and we will continue to stand with the victims’ families, the police and the Madison County State’s Attorney’s Office as the community seeks justice for these crimes.”