The defendant accused in the murder of a Jacksonville native in February plead not guilty today.
37-year-old Joshua E. Wilson of Jacksonville waived his right to a preliminary hearing, pleaded not guilty, and requested a jury trial during an appearance in Morgan County Court this morning. Wilson faces three counts of first-degree murder in the death of 26-year-old Malcolm V. Fitts of Chicago and formerly of Jacksonville.
Fitts died of gunshot wounds at Passavant Area Hospital just before 7:00 am Sunday, February 28th, after Jacksonville Police were called to the scene of a shooting in the parking lot of the Turner High Rise Apartment Complex in the 800 block of Hoagland Boulevard at approximately 5:30 am.
Public Defender Tom Piper entered the not guilty plea for Wilson. Piper then on behalf of Wilson, requested presiding Morgan County Circuit Judge Chris Reif to recuse himself from the case. Piper said Wilson feels having been prosecuted in other court cases when Reif served as Morgan County State’s Attorney, that he would not receive a fair trial.
Judge Reif noted that the request to recuse was justifiable given that he had served as the prosecution in prior cases against Wilson. Reif recused and Associate Judge Jeffrey E. Tobin will now preside over the case.
Wilson is facing 20 to 60 years in prison if he is convicted of first-degree murder, with an additional 25 years to a maximum of life in prison if the state can prove the allegation of Wilson’s use of a firearm. He is next set for a pretrial hearing on June 3rd at 11:00 am.