Quincy man accepts second-degree murder plea in February 2022 death, receives 20-year prison sentence

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Devere Gholston speaks to family members and friends as he leaves an Adams County courtroom on Monday morning. Gholston is escorted by bailiffs David Schlosser, left, and Chad Downs. | David Adam

QUINCY — A second Quincy man involved in the Feb. 17, 2022, death of a 67-year-old man in his home was sentenced Monday morning to 20 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Devere Gholston, 28, appeared in Adams County Circuit Court with attorney Jen Kusmer with the St. Louis firm of Frank, Juengel and Radefeld before Judge Tad Brenner. He pled guilty to an amended charge of second-degree murder. 

In exchange for his plea, three counts of first-degree murder were dismissed, as was one count of residential burglary and one count of robbery. Gholston could have received 35 and 75 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections if a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder. The sentencing range for the second-degree murder charge was between four and 20 years.

Hayden Schmidt pled guilty March 8 to one count of first-degree murder in the beating death of his grandfather, 67-year-old Robert Schmidt, in his home at 3219 Gross Gables. He agreed to a sentence of 27 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Assistant State’s Attorney Josh Jones said the decision to accept the second-degree murder plea came down to Gholston’s involvement in Robert Schmidt’s death. Jones said Gholston assisted in the planning of the offense and was aware it was going to be a robbery. Gholston also kicked in the door to the home. However, Jones said he could not prove Gholston was involved in the homicide itself.

“He was charged on an accountability theory for a felony murder charge that would have been difficult to prove,” Jones said after the sentencing. “Even if it was able to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, there’s certainly some evidentiary issues and legal issues about whether that would ultimately have been an appropriate charge.

“That said, he was certainly involved in and responsible for homicide. We negotiated with the defense attorney and came to the conclusion that second-degree murder was the most appropriate charge under the circumstances.”

Gholston is eligible for 50 percent sentencing under Illinois’ truth in sentencing law. He was given credit for 584 days served in the Adams County Jail. He also must pay $29,982.02 in fines, costs, fees, assessments and restitution.

Assistant State’s Attorney Todd Eyler reads a victim impact statement from Ryan Schmidt, the father of Hayden Schmidt and a son of Robert Schmidt, during Monday’s sentencing hearing. | David Adam

Assistant State’s Attorney Todd Eyler read a victim impact statement from Ryan Schmidt, the father of Hayden Schmidt and a son of Robert Schmidt.

“My father was a kind, compassionate, loving and hardworking man,” Ryan Schmidt wrote. “He loved his family and enjoyed his life. I missed the weekly lunches and daily conversations with him. Our family will never get that time back or a chance to tell him how much we love him ever again. On the night of February 17, my son and you decided to change our lives forever. You decided my father’s life was worth stealing meaningless items for $700. Even if my father’s hand was not met by yours, I want you to understand you’re just as guilty and are just as responsible for this heinous and gruesome murder. My father did, in no way, deserve any of this horrible death. 

“I forgive you and pray that you truly find Jesus Christ and accept His mercy and grace and turn your life around for the benefit of society and God’s kingdom.”

Given an opportunity to make a statement of allocution, Gholston said, “I have nothing to say.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: The amount of fines, costs, fees, assessments and restitution was incorrect in an earlier version of this story.

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