DJ FILE - Courts

KANKAKEE — Theo Chester was found guilty of second-degree murder in the stabbing death of his younger brother on Friday.

The 40-year-old Chester was charged with first-degree murder for killing his younger brother, George Chester, during a fight on Aug. 20, 2018.

George Chester, 28, had allowed his brother to live with him and his family at their home in the 400 block of South Chicago Avenue for several months.

Jurors ruled out the first-degree murder charge Theo Chester was facing.

In order to get a guilty verdict for first-degree murder, prosecutors have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant intended to kill or harm the victim; or knows the act can create a strong possibility of causing great bodily harm or death, according to FindLaw.com.

If they prove either one, the defendant must prove either he was acting under sudden and intense passion because of being provoked by either the victim or another person whom the defendant tried to kill but negligently ended up killing the victim instead; or at the time of the killing, he believed that the killing would have been lawfully justified but the belief was unreasonable.

Kankakee County prosecutors Daniel Reedy and Mark Laws requested Judge Clark Erickson add the second-degree option during jury instructions. Theo Chester’s public defender, Jamie Boyd, requested involuntary manslaughter be added.

Erickson granted both requests.

“As the facts of the case developed at trial, we thought that was an appropriate action,” State’s Attorney Jim Rowe told the Daily Journal after the verdict.

The state’s sentencing range for second-degree murder is four to 20 years.

Theo Chester’s next court date is Monday. Boyd has 30 days to file post-trial motions.

“I think the jurors clearly understood this was not an intentional homicide. This was not murder,” Boyd said. “They struggled with doing the right thing because his brother died.

“Everybody pictures involuntary manslaughter as two guys with guns or knifes and one ends up dead. Unfortunately that didn’t happen in this instance.”

The night of the stabbing, the brothers got into two arguments that turned into fights over two men Theo had brought over to the house that night, according to Alexandria Gaylor, the mother of George Chester’s five children.

Theo Chester testified on Thursday that his brother was choking him and he feared for his life, so he “poked” George with a knife he had in a pocket of the shorts he was wearing. Theo testified he thought he hit his brother in his thigh or butt cheek.

An autopsy revealed George Chester died of a stab wound that pierced the left ventricle on his heart.

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