Police & Courts

Gavin guilty in 2015 shooting death

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jan. 23, 2020 7:10 pm Updated: Jan. 23, 2020 8:06 pm

QUINCY — The moment Vivian Wires heard "guilty" Thursday afternoon in the Adams County Courthouse, she started weeping and whispered, "Thank you God."

"I was just praying we weren't going to have to do this again," she later said.

Steven E. Gavin, charged in the 2015 shooting death of her husband, Carlous Wires, was found guilty after a jury deliberated for nearly 14 hours over two days.

The jury of nine men and three women found Gavin guilty of first-degree murder and armed robbery in the death of Carlous Wires. Jurors also found that Gavin used a firearm in the commission of a murder.

This is the second trial in the case. A mistrial was declared in the February 2019 jury trial after a jury deadlocked after 13 hours of deliberations.

Carlous Wires was killed Nov. 23, 2015, at his home at 706 N. Fourth. Witnesses testified that Gavin claimed he killed Wires after a $20 disagreement over the price of crack cocaine.

Gavin, 57, showed no emotion as the verdict was read in court. He faces a minimum of 45 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections at his sentencing hearing on April 6.

After court adjourned, Vivian Wires hugged her family, as well as staff from the Adams County state's attorney's office and Quincy Police Detective Adam Gibson, who was the lead detective in the investigation.

Speaking with the media outside the courtroom, she said her family has closure from the verdict.

"It's not bringing back their dad, it's not bringing back my grandchildren's grandfather, it's not bringing back my husband, but we got closure today," Vivian Wires said. "And I thank everyone who had a part in that. Thank you so much."

Pleased with the verdict, Josh Jones, lead trial attorney for the Adams County state's attorney's office, believed it was a sad day.

"One person has lost his life over $20 worth of crack cocaine, and another person is going to spend the rest of his life in prison, and he deserves it," Jones said. "But it's not something we're going to be happy about. It's not something to laud, but in the end our job is to make sure justice is served for Carlous, for Carlous' family and for the citizens of Quincy."

Assistant State's Attorney Laura Keck, who also prosecuted the case, said, "The hard thing is you can't bring back Carlous Wires, and for the family, that's what they probably would want. But at least you give them some sense of justice."

Jones said this is Gavin's second murder conviction -- one from when he was 16 years old.

"He's not a good person," he said. "He's a dangerous man."

Gavin's attorney, Curtis Lovelace, said he was disappointed in the verdict and that it was devastating for Gavin and his family.

"The fact that the jury did take a significant amount of time; we appreciate their deliberation on that," Lovelace said. "Again, we disagree with their conclusion."

Lovelace said he will file a motion for a new trial because he thought the court erred in deciding on several motions. He also plans to file an appeal if that motion is denied by Judge Robert Adrian.

The inclusion of the voice lineup completed by Carlous Wires' daughter, Shelby Wires, before the first trial is one of the points he said he would argue.

"There is no statute that covers voice ID, but you would think a police department and detective would look to the ID process and the procedures and the fact you want an independent administrator," Lovelace said. "They didn't do any of it."

The jury was sent home Wednesday night after seven hours of deliberations but returned early Thursday to continue and sent a letter to Judge Robert Adrian just before 3:30 p.m.

Jones said the worst part of a trial is waiting for a jury to reach a verdict.

"For the last two years, we've poured our hearts and souls into this, and we've been waiting for this moment, and you don't know what the result is going to be," he said.

In closing arguments Wednesday, Jones told the jury that the evidence and the testimony in the case could not be torn up and discarded, including witnesses who said Gavin confessed to killing Carlous Wires and a phone call from a "Steve" made to Shelby Wires shortly before her father's death.

Lovelace argued that police didn't properly investigate the case, including whether Vivian Wires was involved in her husband's death.

After the verdict, Adams County State's Attorney Gary Farha praised the work of the Quincy Police Department.

"It is ridiculous for a professional officer like Adam Gibson, who did great work, and the Quincy Police Department, who did great work, to be drug through the mud," Farha said.

Jones said Vivian Wires was unfairly accused of being involved in her husband's death.

"There is something incredibly hypocritical about this defense attorney suggesting that the person most likely to kill one's spouse is one's spouse," Jones said. "There is no evidence of that. It was an attempt at the defense to throw things at the wall to create reasonable doubt, and it's why lawyers get bad names."

What other people thought didn't matter to Vivian Wires.

"It didn't matter, because I knew the truth and God knew the truth, and he prevailed today."

Vivian Wires hoped that she would be able to see her son, Carlous Wires Jr., who was sentenced to 30 days in the Adams County Jail after he was found in contempt of court when he put what appeared to be a $20 bill on the divider in the courtroom during closing arguments Wednesday.

"My son didn't mean anything by what he did, but when you consistently hear that your dad was killed for $20, he felt that he had to pay that debt for him," she said.

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