Police & Courts

New trial location sought in Gavin case

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jul. 18, 2019 12:01 am

QUINCY -- The attorney for the Quincy man set to be retried in the 2015 shooting death of a Quincy man is seeking to move the trial.

Steven Gavin's attorney, Curtis Lovelace, filed a motion to move the trial to another county. A hearing has been set for Aug. 2, after a brief hearing Wednesday in Adams County Circuit Court.

Gavin 56, faces four counts of first-degree murder and one count of armed robbery in the Nov. 23, 2015, shooting death of Carlous Wires at 706 N. Fourth. Gavin is accused of shooting Wires twice in the head after a disagreement when Wires reportedly attempted to buy crack cocaine from Gavin. A mistrial was declared in the February trial after a jury of nine women and three men deliberated for 13 hours and became deadlocked.

In the motion, Lovelace claims that the publicity in the case, including "highly prejudicial inadmissible evidence regarding plea negotiations and alleged confessions made by Steven" to his former attorney, Drew Schnack, would deny Gavin's right to a fair trial as it would be difficult to pick a jury.

The comments involve Schnack's comments to the media regarding plea offers, including a 10-year offer that Gavin would have been eligible for day-for-day credit, meaning he would have served an additional three years.

Schnack, along with Casey Schnack, represented Gavin during the first trial, after Public Defender Chris Pratt was found to have a conflict of interest in the case. Drew Schnack was reappointed to represent Gavin during the retrial, but Lovelace entered his appearance before jury selection started in April.

Lovelace also pointed to comments about Gavin wanting to see video and audio interviews and that Schnack said Gavin was mad "because I wouldn't come up and hold his hand."

Schnack had also made a comment that Gavin or his family believed that if he were to be acquitted, he would have grounds for a civil suit similar to one Lovelace has against the county and the city of Quincy.

The motion points out that the case was covered extensively by print and broadcast with a camera in the courtroom during the trial -- the first at the Adams County Courthouse since the county was approved for extended media coverage.

The motion said that in a Facebook Live post, a reporter from KHQA said Schnack told the reporter Gavin had confessed twice to killing Wires.

A later post on social media clarified Schnack had referenced two witnesses during the trial who said Gavin told them he killed Wires.

Lovelace argued statements can be interpreted by potential jurors that Gavin's decisions to reject a favorable plea offer and hire new counsel cost Adams County residents and that if he were to be acquitted in a second trial, he would continue costing residents money by filing a lawsuit similar to Lovelace's.

Gavin also faces charges of contraband in a penal institution after he reportedly possessed a knife in the jail on April 29, and one count of intimidation after he reportedly told jail staff on May 6 he would kill whoever was put in a cell with him.

He pleaded not guilty in both cases May 15. Both cases were continued.

Gavin has been held in the Adams County Jail on $5 million bond in the shooting death case since his May 1, 2017, arrest, and $500,000 in the weapons case.

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