Herald-Whig

Witnesses claim Gavin said he killed Wires

Sgt. Terry Hagan gives a testimony during the third day of the Steven Gavin trial at the Adams County Courthouse on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020. | H-W Photo/Matt Hopf
Posted: Jan. 17, 2020 12:26 am Updated: Jan. 17, 2020 12:41 am

QUINCY — Two witnesses testified Thursday that Steven E. Gavin told them he shot and killed Carlous Wires.

Both Terron Cartmill and Helen Horton testified in the retrial that Gavin said he shot Carlous Wires on Nov. 23, 2015, at his home at 706 N. Fourth. 

Both testified at the February 2019 trial that ended with a mistrial after the jury was deadlocked after 13 hours of deliberations. 

Gavin, 57, faces four counts of first-degree murder and one count of armed robbery in Wires' death.

Cartmill testified that he was living in a trailer park at 24th and Locust the night of the shooting when Gavin came over. 

Gavin, Cartmill testified, told him that he went to the home to sell crack cocaine to Wires, but that Gavin wanted $100, and Wires would only pay $80, and reportedly showed Gavin a wad of cash, which reportedly angered Gavin.

Cartmill said Gavin left and returned to the home with a gun where he reportedly told Wires, “We can do this the easy way or the hard way.”

Gavin reportedly told Cartmill that Wires' last words were “Are you going to shoot me with my son upstairs?” before firing two shots and taking money and marijuana that had been in a box.

Cartmill also testified that Gavin had a wad of money that appeared to have blood on it.

Cartmill admitted that he lied to police when they first questioned him in the case, saying he didn't know anything about Wires' death. 

He said he was worried for his and his family's safety. 

Upon cross-examination by Gavin's attorney, Curtis Lovelace, Cartmill said he and Gavin used heroin together. 

Helen Horton testified that Gavin gave her money that had blood on it. 

She also said that while she and Gavin were getting high together, he told her that he shot Wires, but it “wasn't supposed to go down like that.” He reportedly told her that it was a robbery that went bad.

Horton testified that Gavin visited her the day after he made those comments and said “we didn't want your mom to end up like Carlous.”

Lovelace pointed to Horton's testimony to a grand jury and in previous interviews with police where she never mentioned anything about that. 

Horton said she remembers what happens when she used methamphetamine, which she said was her drug of choice.

Lovelace pointed to previous testimony from the February trial and asked if she could remember when her children were born, which she couldn't.

“From all the drugs you've done?” he asked.

“It could be,” Horton replied.

After Lovelace finished questioning Horton, Assistant State's Attorney Laura Keck asked her if during a 2017 prison interview she was able to call her mother.

Horton said she was able to find out her mother was safe and then told police what Gavin told her.

Also testifying Thursday was Sgt. Terry Hagan of the Quincy Police Department, who was the first officer to arrive at the scene.

He testified that when he arrived he was approached by Carlous Wires' wife, Vivian Wires, who told him that her husband had shot himself.

Hagan said two shell casings and no gun present indicated to him that it wasn't suicide.

Lovelace asked about the shell casings facing straight up.

Hagan said that while odd, it's possible for shell casings to land straight up.

Quincy Police Crime Scene Technician Emily Pezzella reviewed the evidence collected from the Wireses' home.

Pezzella also testified that Gavin refused to submit to a court-ordered buccal swab for DNA testing.

Later testimony from Jennifer Aper, a forensic scientist with the Illinois State Police Crime Lab, said there was only one DNA analysis showing that Gavin was a “possible contributor,” but 72% of black men also fit the same profile. It also was a common profile for white and Hispanic men.

Additional testimony from Bradley LeBar, who was a latent fingerprint examiner for the Illinois State Police through 2017, and Brian Long, a forensic scientist with the crime lab, both testified that no fingerprints matched Gavin's on evidence from the scene.

Testimony continues Friday when the prosecution is expected to rest its case. The defense is set to present evidence on Tuesday.

Gavin is being held in the Adams County Jail on $5 million bond, as well as $500,000 for two unrelated charges.