Homicides

Sheppard Law Firm has a proven track record in successfully defending against homicide, reckless homicide, involuntary manslaughter, and attempted murder cases.

First Degree Murder

Illinois defines first degree murder as follows:

  • (a) A person who kills an individual without lawful justification commits first degree murder if, in performing the acts which cause the death:
  • (1) he either intends to kill or do great bodily harm to that individual or another, or knows that such acts will cause death to that individual or another; or
  • (2) he knows that such acts create a strong probability of death or great bodily harm to that individual or another; or
  • (3) he is attempting or committing a forcible felony other than second degree murder.

720 ILCS 5/9-1.

Several affirmative defenses exist to first degree murder, including, self-defense (the defendant was justified in committing the act to defend himself), defense of others (the defendant was justified in committing the act to defend another), and insanity. Other defenses include an accident defense, i.e., the killing was unintentional, or mistaken identity.

In some cases, murder charges may be able to reduced to involuntary manslaughter, for which the defendant may be eligible for probation. The news articles below report on some of the cases where Sheppard Law Firm obtained dismissal of murder charges in favor of involuntary manslaughter findings for which the defendant received probation:

Sheppard Law Firm is currently representing Doctor Wyndham Lathem, a world-renowned microbiologist, and former Northwestern University professor, whom the government supported in his research of the bubonic and pneumonic plague. Doctor Lathem hopes to use his pretrial time productively and provide educational opportunities to inmates. See http://chicago.suntimes.com/chicago-politics/sneed-exclusive-prof-charged-in-grisly-murder-wants-to-teach-inmates/. Doctor Lathem’s family members, friends, and colleagues continue to submit letters of support on his behalf.

Attempt Murder

Under Illinois law, "[a] person commits the offense of attempt when, with intent to commit a specific offense, he or she does any act that constitutes a substantial step toward the commission of that offense." 720 ILCS 5/8-4(a). Attempt murder is a Class X, non-probationable, felony, which carries a minimum of six years’ imprisonment

In several well-publicized cases, Sheppard Law Firm has successfully obtained acquittals on behalf of defendants charged with attempt murder.

  • In the case of a former NBA player who was charged with attempt murder, Sheppard obtained a not-guilty on his behalf. See the following news article regarding the case: http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/trial-starts-for-ex-nba-player/article_887762ef-3490-5c80-b1f0-bf751d454e8f.html
  • In the case of a Chicago-based rapper, who was charged with attempt murder and aggravated discharge of a firearm, the client was found not-guilty of all charges following trial. The rapper wrote a song about the case, titled "Free Man:".
  • In the case of a notorious Chicagoan, who was charged with attempt murder based on an allegation that he attempted to burn a woman to death by pouring gasoline on her and igniting it with a match, the client was found not guilty at trial.

Reckless Homicide

Another form of homicide is "reckless homicide." In Illinois, "[a] person commits reckless homicide if he or she unintentionally kills an individual while driving a vehicle and using an incline in a roadway, such as a railroad crossing, bridge approach, or hill, to cause the vehicle to become airborne." 720 ILCS 5/9-3.

Reckless homicide charges are common when a DUI (driving under the influence case) results in a fatality. However, reckless homicide charges may also be brought based on an allegation that the defendant drove in a manner that was likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another.

Sheppard Law Firm is currently representing a driver for Amazon against charges of Reckless Homicide (http://abc7chicago.com/news/family-sues-amazon-after-driver-hits-kills-84-year-old/1688504/)

Sheppard Law Firm also represents clients at the appellate level in homicide cases.