Springfield, Illinois – Sangamon County State’s Attorney, Dan Wright, announced today that Martin A. Brown, age 26, was justified in using deadly force in the shooting death of 29 year old Willie C. Evans Jr.
Today, Brown was officially charged with Armed Habitual Criminal (Class X felony; 6-30 years served at 85%; not probational eligible) and Unlawful Possession of a Weapon by a Felon (Class 2 felony; 3-14 years served at 50%; not probation eligible).
An investigation by the Springfield Police Department concluded that Willie C. Evans Jr., age 29 suffered a fatal gunshot wound from a firearm discharged by Brown as Evans attempted to forcibly enter a dwelling in the 1400 block of North 11th Street in Springfield at approximately 3:30 a.m. on July 7, 2020. Witnesses reported that Evans arrived at the residence, repeatedly banged on the door and threatened violence. Witnesses also reported that Evans proceeded to a bedroom window and forced an air conditioning unit through the window to gain entry. At that time, Brown discharged a firearm toward the window, striking Evans and causing his death. A female resident also present within the dwelling during the incident was the named victim in a pending felony case against Evans for Unlawful Violation of an Order of Protection (2020-CF-719).
Under the Illinois Criminal Code, a person is justified in the use of deadly force under certain circumstances to defend a person or dwelling. 720 ILCS 5/7-1 and 7-2. Deadly force is justified under Section 7-1 (Use of force in defense of person) when an individual “reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or another, or the commission of a forcible felony.” Section 7-2 provides that a person is justified in the use of deadly force “to prevent or terminate… [an] unlawful entry into or attack upon a dwelling” where such “entry is made or attempted in a violent, riotous, or tumultuous manner, and he reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent an assault upon, or offer of personal violence to, him or another then in the dwelling.” Deadly force in defense of a dwelling is also justified when a person “reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent the commission of a felony in the dwelling.” 720 ILCS 5/7-2.
The circumstances reported in the SPD investigation indicate that Brown discharged a firearm to prevent the forcible felony of home invasion under Section 5/7-1 of the Illinois Criminal Code. The SPD investigation also reflects that Evans attempted to enter the dwelling in a “violent, riotous, or tumultuous manner” following threats of violence and Brown reasonably believed the use of deadly force was necessary to “prevent an assault upon, or offer of personal violence to, him or another then in the dwelling” under Section 7-2.
The Sangamon County State’s Attorney’s Office has completed a thorough evaluation of the SPD investigation and determined that Brown’s discharge of a firearm striking Evans was a justified use of deadly force under Illinois law given the unique facts presented. Accordingly, no additional charges related to the shooting will be filed at this time.
Brown is charged with the offenses of Armed Habitual Criminal and Unlawful Possession of a Weapon by a Felon based upon his possession of a firearm after having been convicted of 2 forcible felonies, including residential burglary in 2012 and aggravated battery (great bodily harm) in 2018. Brown was on parole at the time of this incident.
All counts are concurrent and any sentence imposed on each charge would be served simultaneously with any other charge of which Brown is convicted. Brown turned himself in at the Springfield Police Department on July 7, 2020 and remains in the custody of the Sangamon County Jail on bond in the amount of $500,000, but will have to pay 10 percent ($50,000) to be released.