Police & Courts

Testimony starts in retrial of Quincy man charged in 2015 shooting death

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jan. 15, 2020 9:30 pm Updated: Jan. 16, 2020 9:05 am

QUINCY — Testimony in the Steven E. Gavin retrial started out nearly identical to the first trial in February 2019 that ended in a mistrial after the jury became deadlocked.

Gavin faces four counts of first-degree murder and one count of armed robbery in Carlous Wires' death.

Vivian Wires, Carlous Wires' wife, testified Wednesday in Adams County Circuit Court that on Nov. 23, 2015, she heard the front door of their home at 706 N. Fourth being "forcefully opened" followed by heavy footsteps and then two gunshots.

Vivian Wires said that she went to the top of the stairs of their home noticing a "cap gun smell" in the air. She initially believed that her husband was using a BB gun to shoot at cats that have been getting in the trash at their home. She said she went downstairs and walked out the front door and walked to the corner of Fourth and College calling for her husband.

Upon re-entering their home, she testified that she found her husband in the living room, thinking he was sleeping or passed out after drinking. After realizing her husband was dead, she thought he might have committed suicide.

Vivian Wires said that she had been angry at her husband that day after he "made a pass at someone" the day before. She said she wasn't speaking to him that evening, but he came upstairs into their bedroom, telling her he knew she was mad, but he was going to take her Black Friday shopping. She testified that he threw some money at her, which she said she threw on the bed.

She testified that she went downstairs later and saw a bottle of whiskey and a bag of marijuana on the table, at which point she told him to get the marijuana out of her house.

She also said that after calling 911, she threw the bag of marijuana into a neighbor's yard because she was scared.

Josh Jones, lead trial attorney for the Adams County state's attorney's office, asked Vivian Wires whether she had anything to do with her husband's death.

"Positively, absolutely nothing," she replied.

Gavin's attorney, Curtis Lovelace, sought to discredit Vivian Wires and each witness by reviewing transcripts of interviews with the Quincy Police Department.

He asked her about not mentioning throwing the bag of marijuana into the neighbor's yard until a May 2017 interview with police.

She replied that she didn't recall if that interview was the first time she mentioned throwing away the bag.

When asked, Vivian Wires testified that Carlous Wires had made passes at others previously.

"Throughout our marriage, we had our spits and spats, but we get over it," she said. "Unfortunately, this time we didn't get over it."

Shelby Wires testified that her father used her phone that night asking for "Steve." She received a call soon after where a man on the other line asked if someone called for "Steve."

She later identified a voice recorded by the Quincy Police Department on Feb. 4, and said two of the four recordings played were the voice on the call that night.

Gavin was required to stand up and say, "Did someone call for Steve?" in open court.

"That's the voice," Shelby said.

Robert McPhail, who is serving time in the Illinois Department of Corrections, testified that Gavin called to pick him up the night of the shooting. He said he brought Gavin to a trailer park at 24th and Locust where Gavin asked for a change of clothes and shoes, which McPhail said was unusual. Gavin's old clothes were reportedly put in a bag and thrown in a dumpster.

McPhail said Gavin appeared to have a lot of money, which also was unusual for Gavin at the end of the month.

He testified that Gavin gave him $20 to go to a gas station in West Quincy, Mo., and pick up cigarettes and iced tea. While in line to check out, he said the bill had a blood splotch on it that he said appeared fresh.

Under cross-examination, McPhail said he didn't see any blood on Gavin's clothes. He also admitted that in 2015 he was a heroin addict and was using that day.

Vicky Shumpert testified that she overheard Gavin refer to "bloody money" the day after the shooting in Gavin's sister's apartment. She also testified that at a different time on the front patio of her apartment during a conversation about whether that gun used in the shooting was involved in the previous shooting of her nephew, she claimed Gavin said that it was a lie and that the gun would never be found.

Also taking the stand Wednesday, Michael Gay testified that he walked by the Wireses' house the night of the shooting, and Carlous Wires even told him to watch for a branch that had fallen earlier. He said that he saw a "black man" walk from the home, and that he also saw Carlous Wires get something out of a passenger side of his car.

Gay also testified that he saw an older model vehicle parked nearby, which he later identified to police.

He said that as he was heading east on College Avenue, he heard sirens.

During cross-examination, Gay said he had a warrant out for him at the time, and when he was questioned by Quincy Police on Dec. 1, 2015, he told them he would do whatever it takes to make sure he could go to an activity with his kids the next day.

Gay also testified that the word on the street was that he was responsible for the death of Carlous Wires.

David Scott testified that he was on Fifth Street between College and Oak about a block away from the Wireses' home when he said he heard one or two gunshots. Soon after, he said he saw Gavin driving a maroon or burgundy car on the same block.

Lovelace asked him if he told police those details the night of the shooting. Scott said he didn't tell many details to police that night, though he believed he told police about the car. Scott also didn't remember what he said to Vivian Wires the night of the shooting.

Also Wednesday, two jurors were excused for the remainder of the trial — one for a family illness and the other who was ill. This means only one alternate juror remains for the remainder of the trial.

Another juror came forward after realizing during Tuesday's opening statements that he knew a witness from when he was school, but attorneys agreed that he should remain a juror, after he told them he would judge his testimony as if it were any witness.

The trial will continue next week, but it isn't expected that prosecutors will rest their case until Friday with the defense starting Tuesday. Testimony continues Thursday morning.

Gavin continues to be held in the Adams County Jail on $5 million, and $500,000 for two unrelated cases.

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