By DON O'BRIEN
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Murder suspect Vincent B. Carter made his first court appearance Monday morning and appeared confused as Judge Robert Adrian read the charge against him.
Carter repeatedly stopped Adrian, who read the charge of first-degree murder as the result of Thursday's shooting death of Terry L. Williams at an apartment complex at 219 S. 11th.
"I don't understand none of that," Carter told Adrian after hearing the charge the first time. "I hear the wording."
Adrian then read the charge again, with Carter interrupting again after hearing he was being charged with first-degree murder.
"I don't understand that," Carter said.
"That is what is called a charge, OK?" Adrian asked Carter.
Carter stopped Adrian one other time during the second reading.
"I don't understand that, either," Carter said.
Adrian eventually got Carter to agree that he understood the charge.
Adrian then told Carter of the possible penalties. If convicted of first-degree murder, Carter could face between 45 and 85 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections, a fine of $25,000 and three years of mandatory supervised release upon completion of his prison sentence.
The sentencing range in first-degree murder cases is usually between 20 and 60 years, but because a gun was used in the crime, 25 years are added to each end of the sentencing spectrum. Carter is alleged to have used a semiautomatic pistol in the shooting. Quincy police are still searching for the weapon.
Carter didn't understand that, either.
"My mind is blank," he said. "I didn't hear what you just said."
Carter told Adrian he would need a public defender.
"I haven't been able to contact any of my people," Carter said.
Chief Public Defender Holly Henze was appointed to defend Carter. Carter is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing at 1:45 p.m. Jan. 23 in front of Judge Scott Walden. Carter is being lodged in the Adams County Jail in lieu of a $1 million bond.
What is usually a short, routine proceeding lasted about 10 minutes because of Carter's continued interruptions.
Other than media, seven other people were in the small Courtroom 1A in the Adams County Courthouse. Two bailiffs and two deputies from the Adams County Sheriff's Department stood watch in the courtroom. Two deputies were stationed in the hallway and two more were outside the building's entrance before Carter's appearance.
Carter, wearing a standard-issue red-and-white striped jail jumpsuit, scanned the gallery before the hearing started. He stood throughout the hearing, often shaking his head back and forth as if he was denying what Adrian was saying to him.
Adams County State's Attorney Jon Barnard said Carter, 44, has several previous convictions for drug charges. Barnard said Carter was twice convicted for possession of a controlled substance in Houston, Texas. Carter also has a cannabis charge and a possession of a controlled substance charge on his record from Cook County in Illinois. Barnard said this is the first violent crime for which Carter has been charged.
Williams, 53, died at 3:47 p.m. Thursday. Carter fled the scene on foot and was a fugitive until a tip led to his arrest at 11 a.m. Friday in a residence on the city's north side.