UPDATE: James Wilson fatally shot unarmed Barnett Adams during Austin street fight, prosecutors say

James Wilson / Photo from Chicago Police
James Wilson / Photo from Chicago Police

Homicide Watch Chicago

A Forest Park man was ordered held without bond Thursday for allegedly fatally shooting Barnett Adams during an Austin neighborhood street fight last month.

James Wilson, 30, allegedly shot Adams outside a store in the 5600 block of West Chicago Avenue about 5:10 p.m. Dec. 19, authorities said.

Assistant State’s Attorney Allison Sise said Wilson drove up in an Infiniti and went inside a store to confront Adams about drugs allegedly taken by a relative of Adams.

The argument escalated to a fight outside the store and both men attempted to land punches, Sise said. Adams eventually punched Wilson to the ground.

When Wilson got up, he allegedly shot an unarmed Adams multiple times, Sise said.

Adams, 33, of the 600 block of North Waller Avenue, died about an hour later at Mount Sinai Hospital, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office, which ruled the death a homicide.

Barnett Adams / Submitted Photo

Barnett Adams / Submitted Photo

Three witnesses identified Wilson as the shooter in a photo lineup, Sise said.

Wilson was arrested in the Champaign-Urbana area after a court hearing for an unrelated obstruction of justice case, authorities said. Wilson, of the 7400 block of Washington Street in Forest Park, was charged with first-degree murder in Adams’ death.

Wilson appeared before Judge Adam Bourgeois in a white T-shirt and blue jeans. His attorney, Sam Adam Jr., argued Adams threw the first punch.

Adam, the lead attorney for former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich in his first corruption trial, said Wilson has lived in the Chicago area his whole life, has two children and worked at Unity Transportation.

He further argued that Wilson is not a flight risk, and noted that he went downstate for a court hearing and not to flee. Bourgeois was not swayed by the defense and ordered Wilson held without bond.

“Your client has a propensity toward violence,” Bourgeois said.

Wilson has a 2001 conviction for aggravated battery and armed robbery, Sise said. He was sentenced to seven years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

He will be back in court Feb. 18.

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