Rockford's Independent Newspaper

Guilty verdict in Chaundra Davis slaying

By Jim Hagerty

ROCKFORD — The man accused of killing his 38-year-old girlfriend in 2008 was found guilty after a two-week trial.

James Edward Williams, 52, was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder and one count of concealment of a homicidal death Thursday after a jury trial in front of Judge Ronald White.

Jury selection began Jan. 10.

A family member reported Davis missing Nov. 8, 2008, when she failed to pick up two of her children from her sister’s home. Her body was found Nov. 22 in the Rock River. She’d been strangled. The case then went cold for six years. Williams was in an Illinois prison in 2015 when he was indicted for first-degree murder.

“He treated her like a piece of garbage and threw her into a watery grave,” Marilyn Hite Ross, chief of the criminal bureau in the Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s Office, said during closing arguments.

The prosecution showed the jury several graphic photos of Davis’ body Thursday morning, including one taken moments after she was pulled from the river. Davis’ son, 22-year-old Jonathan Davis, became distraught when the photo was displayed and ran out of the courtroom. He was taken to a local hospital and treated for an asthma attack. He’s since been released.

Jonathan Davis testified for the state and recounted how he witnessed Williams abuse his mother and that he often attempted to protect her. He even hit Williams on one occasion so he’d stop beating his mom. Williams also destroyed property in the home Jonathan shared with his two siblings, he testified.

First-degree murder is a Class M felony, punishable by 20 to 60 years in prison. Concealment of a homicidal death is a Class 3 felony with a sentencing range of two to five years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Williams is scheduled to be back in court again Feb. 13 for a status hearing. R.

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