By DON O'BRIEN
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
An argument over rent payment was what led to a fatal shooting at a downtown Quincy apartment complex last month, according to testimony presented at a preliminary hearing on Wednesday.
Detective Anjanette Biswell said Vincent B. Carter allegedly shot Terry L. Williams around 3 p.m. on Jan. 3 after Williams confronted Carter about not paying any rent for living at an apartment complex located at 219 S. 11th.
After hearing testimony and arguments from both sides during the half-hour hearing, Judge Scott Walden found that there was probable cause to try the first-degree murder charge against Carter, 44. Carter entered a not guilty plea. His case was placed on the May jury docket. A hearing on pretrial motions will be held on April 1 and the trial is scheduled to begin May 13.
Biswell said Williams confronted Carter on behalf of the renter, Tamara Taylor. Williams and his friend, Creighton Weldon, went to the apartment to help Taylor. Weldon was looking for a place to live and thought that he could help Taylor with her rent by moving in.
"Creighton thought that he had heard rumors that Carter was not paying rent and wanted to find Tammy a rent-paying roommate," Biswell said.
Taylor agreed to take in Weldon since it would help her pay her $400 a month rent, Biswell said. According to Biswell, Carter and his girlfriend, Tiffany Yerhart, were staying at Taylor's apartment.
"Williams walked into the room and told them they had until the 10th to get out if they weren't going to pay rent," Biswell said.
After a verbal altercation, Carter shot Williams. Weldon told Biswell that Carter fired three shots.
"After the first shot, (Weldon) said Williams lunged at (Carter) and they struggled over the gun," Biswell said. "After the third shot, Williams fell to the ground."
Biswell said there were eight people in the apartment at the time of the shooting — Carter, Williams, Weldon, Taylor, Yerhart, Zelik Beard, Ryan Farris and Penny Shaffer. Biswell said that the other witnesses reported hearing two shots being fired. Two bullet casings were found at the scene.
Carter is alleged to have used a semiautomatic pistol in the shooting. Carter told investigators that he ditched the gun in an unknown location after fleeing the scene.
"He said took it and threw it in an unknown area under a car in an alley," Biswell said. "He said that he had very little knowledge of Quincy and ran in a zig-zag pattern trying to get to his friends' house."
Biswell said the gun used in the shooting has not been recovered.
Carter was arrested the day after the shooting at a residence in the 700 block of North Fifth on Quincy's northwest side. Biswell said investigators interviewed Ronald Smith, who lived at the house where Carter was found.
"(Smith) said that he wanted to buy the gun from Carter," Biswell said. "Carter said that he didn't have it any more. (Carter) told Smith that Williams had attacked him and shot him in self defense. He said that had the gun not jammed that he was going to shoot Creighton Weldon, too."
Carter spent nearly six hours at Quincy Police Department headquarters after his arrest on Jan. 4. He agreed to be interrogated while he was there.
Carter said that he was playing video games with Yerhart, Shaffer, Beard and Farris when Williams and Weldon arrived at the apartment. Carter said that Williams came into the room and told them to be out by Jan. 10. He said that Williams threatened to throw all of Carter's belongings into the street. Carter said he was going to leave, but decided not to until Williams left.
Carter told investigators that he shot the gun two or three times before it jammed.
Biswell said the witnesses said that Williams was verbally aggressive toward Carter. The witnesses said that Carter didn't acknowledge Williams at first but eventually started to defend himself. Williams did not have a weapon on him.
After finding probable cause to carry the case over to trial, Walden read the charge to Carter. Just as he was at his first court appearance after the shooting, Carter appeared confused by what Walden was saying.
"I don't understand how I'm supposed to know what I was going to do would kill him," Carter said.
Carter sat stoically throughout most of the hearing. He did take a few seconds near the end of the hearing to take a look around the courtroom, which was filled with people waiting for other cases on the day's docket. Carter wore glasses to his last court appearance but was not wearing any on Wednesday.
If convicted of first-degree murder, Carter could face between 45 years to natural life in the Illinois Department of Corrections, a fine of $25,000 and three years of mandatory supervised release upon completion of his prison sentence. Carter is being lodged in the Adams County Jail in lieu of a $1 million bond.