Judge Takes Pretrial Release Under Advisement in Wilson Murder Case; Trial Tentatively Set for April

By Benjamin Cox on February 5, 2024 at 5:42am

A Jacksonville man accused of murdering a man in a Jacksonville parking lot in February 2021 was back in court Friday afternoon.

40-year old Joshua E. Wilson returned to Morgan County Court on Friday for a petition for pretrial release under the new provisions of the SAFE-T Act. Wilson was previously held under the old cash bond system and wished to petition the court under the new system.

Wilson is accused of shooting 26-year old Malcolm Fitts of Chicago and formerly of Jacksonville in the parking lot of the Turner Hi Rise Apartment complex on the evening of February 28, 2021. Wilson was in court in front of visiting Macoupin County Judge Kenneth Diehl last week to set up the scope of Friday’s hearing, as both the state and defense requested time to look over exhibits that would be presented to the court on the petition for release.

Both sides presented arguments on the petition, including a sworn statement by law enforcement, a letter proffered by an eye witness, and Wilson’s previous criminal history. Morgan County Public Defender Devin Vaughn offered GPS monitoring at a family member’s home in Springfield and the fact that Wilson had received a job offer as pieces to his argument for Wilson’s release prior to the trial.

Judge Diehl told the court that he would take all the arguments presented under advisement and issue a written order on the petition in the coming days.

Assistant State’s Attorney Chad Turner says that a judge not issuing an oral opinion on a cause for a petition is left up to their prerogative: “Every judge is different. Obviously, Judge Diehl is a visiting judge on this particular case, so it’s the first case that I’ve had in front of him. It’s the first petition in I’ve had in front of him for pretrial release, and even beyond that, the whole thing is new anyway. So, I think some judges are pronouncing their rulings immediately. I think some are taking it under advisement, but all are doing written rulings. It’s required by the statute. The appellate courts are making them be very specific in their findings in the written rulings.”

Wilson will return to Morgan County Court for a jury pretrial conference, as well as any further procedural motions on March 15th, with a tentative trial date set for April 23rd.