Case continued after Weems receives offer to resolve first-degree murder charge from May 2023

Weems 1 05282024

Chief Public Defender Christopher Pratt, left, and attorney Matt Wayman, center, deal with paperwork during a status hearing for Victor Weems, right, Tuesday morning in Adams County Circuit Court. Attorney Jerry Timmerwilke stands in the background. | David Adam

QUINCY — A plea deal for a Quincy man facing first-degree murder charges may be imminent.

Victor A. Weems III, 20, appeared in Adams County Circuit Court on Tuesday morning before Judge Tad Brenner. Matt Wayman with the Hammer Law Firm in St. Louis was there to represent Weems on the first-degree murder charge. Chief Public Defender Christopher Pratt was there to represent Weems on four other felony charges he is facing.

Wayman began Tuesday’s brief status hearing by telling Brenner he would be asking for a continuance.

“We very recently received an offer to resolve the case,” Wayman said. “I need additional time to have a conversation with my client to see if he would like to accept this offer.”

A status hearing on the first-degree murder charge, as well as a charge of aggravated discharge of a firearm at an occupied vehicle, was set for July 2.

Pratt also asked for continuances on four other cases for which he represents Weems. Pratt then said he must withdraw as Weems’ attorney. Justice Lisa Holder White and the Illinois Supreme Court announced earlier this month the appointment of Pratt as an at-large Circuit Judge in the Eighth Judicial Circuit in Adams County. His first day as a judge is June 10.

Pratt asked that the Adams County Public Defender’s Office continue to represent Weems, saying a formal entry of appearance to come.

Weems was arrested Jan. 1 during a raid at an apartment complex at 3100 State. He was formally charged with first-degree murder and aggravated discharge of a firearm at an occupied vehicle in the May 2023 shooting death of 47-year-old Dana Lawton, who was shot in the head while sitting on the front porch of Pam Droege’s 1112 Jefferson Street home. 

Weems was involved in an altercation near 12th and Jefferson and allegedly fired a shot during the incident. The bullet traveled more than a block and struck Lawton. 

The first-degree charge in a Class M felony and carries a possible sentence of 45 years to natural life in the Illinois Department of Corrections if Weems is found guilty by a jury. A Class M felony typically would have a sentencing range of 20 to 60 years, but Weems’ charge has a 25-year added enhancement since a firearm was used in the murder. Weems would have to serve 100 percent of his sentence.

The charge of aggravated discharge of a firearm at an occupied vehicle is a Class 1 felony. It carries a possible sentence of four to 15 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections if Weems is found guilty by a jury. Weems would have to serve 85 percent of his sentence under the truth in sentencing law.

A bill of indictment filed by an Adams County grand jury on Jan. 25 found reason to believe Weems had committed the two crimes in May.

Weems is facing the following charges that were filed on Jan. 3, 2023, in connection with a Dec. 13, 2022, incident during which he allegedly furnished false identification to a Quincy Police officer and fled from a traffic stop at a high rate of speed:

  • Obstruction of justice/destroying evidence, a Class 4 felony;
  • Causing a child to be endangered, a Class A misdemeanor; 
  • Reckless driving, a Class A misdemeanor.

Weems is facing the following charges that were filed on March 30, 2023, in connection with a March 29, 2023, incident in the home of Cassandra Taylor in the 900 block of Country Club Heights:

  • Home invasion/cause injury, a Class X felony;
  • Aggravated battery to a pregnant person, a Class 3 felony;
  • Criminal damage to property of more than $500 but less than $10,000, a Class 4 felony;
  • Domestic battery/bodily harm, a Class A misdemeanor;

Weems is facing the following charges that were filed on May 24, 2023, in connection with a May 16, 2023, incident involving his possession of a 2012 Mercedes ML 350:

  • Receiving, possessing or selling a stolen vehicle, a Class 2 felony.

Weems was sentenced to 24 months of probation on Aug. 2, 2022, after pleading guilty to obstructing identification, a Class A misdemeanor, and possession of cannabis of more than 100 grams but less than 500 grams, a Class 4 felony, in connection with an incident on March 12, 2022. He could be charged with a probation violation if found guilty in his other cases.

Victor Weems | David Adam

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