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Archive for Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Lawrence man charged with shooting his 80-year-old cousin in Illinois soybean field

October 12, 2011, 11:32 a.m. Updated October 12, 2011, 3:58 p.m.

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Gerard James, who lives just south of Lawrence, is charged with first-degree murder in the Oct. 9, 2011 shooting death of his cousin, Harlan James, in a field northwest of Champaign, Ill. This is Gerard James' booking photo from the Champaign County Correctional Center, where he is being held in lieu of $1 million bond.

Gerard James, who lives just south of Lawrence, is charged with first-degree murder in the Oct. 9, 2011 shooting death of his cousin, Harlan James, in a field northwest of Champaign, Ill. This is Gerard James' booking photo from the Champaign County Correctional Center, where he is being held in lieu of $1 million bond.

A 68-year-old man who lives just south of Lawrence is in an Illinois jail, charged with shooting his cousin to death on a family soybean field northwest of Champaign, Ill.

Gerard James is being held in lieu of $1 million bond in the Champaign County Correctional Center. He’d been in the area for a few weeks, helping his brother harvest soybeans on land they own together.

Last Friday, on an 80-acre field just north of Mahomet, Ill., Gerard James had been driving a grain truck while his brother, Alan, had been operating a combine.

Lt. Ed Ogle, commander of the investigations division for the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office, describes what officials believe happened next:

A van pulls up shortly before 3 p.m., driven by Gerard James’ cousin. Inside is Harlan James, who lives in Champaign and is hauling brush out to his own field nearby, where he planned to burn the material.

Harlan gets out of the van, and walks up to the grain truck. He and Gerard meet — what, if anything, is said remains unknown.

From the combine, Alan hears shouting. Then a shot.

Harlan is dead, and Alan sees his brother holding a pistol, still sitting in the cab of the grain truck.

The brothers talk, and decide that someone should notify the authorities. Alan makes the call, and Gerard is arrested.

Gerard James doesn’t dispute what happened, Ogle said Tuesday.

“He readily admits that he was afraid of him and that he shot him,” Ogle said Tuesday, of the ongoing investigation. “We don’t know why, obviously. (Harlan) was an 80-year-old guy. He didn’t have any weapons with him.”

Gerard James has been arraigned and charged with first-degree murder. He faces up to life in prison.

Ogle said that Gerard James would make his way into the area twice a year: for the planting of crops in the spring and harvest in the fall. His mother lives in the area, cared for by Alan James.

While harvesting Friday, Gerard James had a 9 mm pistol with him, Ogle said. Alan James had a pistol and a shotgun in the combine.

The brothers also own some rural property together along the Kansas River, near Lecompton.

Gerard James has no criminal record in Douglas County. A records check indicates he’s received “a couple traffic tickets,” but nothing more, said Sgt. Steve Lewis, a spokesman for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.

“That’s just your average-adult type of stuff,” Lewis said.

Comments

david_ 2 years, 6 months ago

I went online and read the comments. They were cruel to say the least. I began going back and looking at the comments left by the ones involved in this and noticed they regularly did this to many other people who appeared in the OTS photo. I'm sure many of the others they made fun of were just as hurt as this young man.

I began posting myself in an attempt to get the ljworld to stop letting this happen. Did they care, NO. It seemed to me that the ljworld was enjoying these cruel posts as much as anyone else involved. So, I disagree with you ignatius, I think the ljworld does want to "keep anonymous online commenters happy". Especially if these commenters enjoy making cruel comments about a nice young man's appearance.

Also, your comment that I should spend my time doing something I like. Well, I am. I'm trying to help others. That includes people like this young man and others who make their headlines only because they made mistakes or ran into some bad luck. Because I noticed that those were the articles with the cruel comments from these anonymous posters.

I'm not a knee jerk poster. I've spent hours looking through comments by anonymous posters. Here is the impression I get. Throw up an article that really isn't news, but involves a good hardworking citizen who has fallen on some bad luck, then let a feeding frenzy of anonymous losers post pretty much anything they want about this person. Great fun isn't it? Yea, if your a momma's basement dwelling, unemployed jerk. Just the kind of people the ljworld likes to keep happy.

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david_ 2 years, 6 months ago

ignatius....... I respect your opinion. But, you unknowingly hit the nail right on the head with the last part of your comment,

"It's their job to make money and inform citizens, not keep anonymous online commenters happy."

ignatius, we agree it's their job to make money. Informing citizens is true also if it's actual news and not small town gossip the general public could care less about.

"Not to keep anonymous online commenters happy" is where we differ, and I'll explain why and you will understand my disgust.

Not long ago, a family friend was stopped by ljworld reporters while he was walking downtown. He was asked to participate in that day's OTS question. I don't remember the question, but it's not really important. He agreed to answer their question and let them take his photo to appear in a later issue of the ljworld. This young man had recently been through a very difficult personal issue, but his spirits were somewhat lifted at the thought that he would appear in the ljworld. He was so proud of this he immediately told all his friends and family to "watch the paper, I'm going to be in it".

When he appeared in the ljworld OTS section his mother phoned me right away to tell me to take a look. She said he was grinning from ear to ear when he first went online and saw his photo and comment.

Now here's the sad part, and the part you are wrong about. For the rest of that day this young man monitored the online responses the anonymous posters were saying. For the most part none of the posters were commenting about the OTS question. No, most were making comments about this young man's photo. Making fun of the way he looked. I probably don't even have to tell you how crushed this young man was. His mother called me the next day and was in tears over it. She said her son felt like a complete loser and was sorry he even told anyone he would be in the paper.

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sunny 2 years, 6 months ago

Very sad and disturbing situation.

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the_realest_mccoy 2 years, 6 months ago

Everyone who knows Gerry knows he is a good-natured and kind-hearted man. I assure you he will be exonerated when the facts come out in this case. And when he is, I will buy him a pint of beer on the porch.

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lgreen17 2 years, 6 months ago

He must have been very afraid of this man. Jerry is a very sweet kind person. I can't imagine how frightened he must have been to kill someone.

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Richard Payton 2 years, 6 months ago

Brothers got some land toward Topeka go figure.

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thebigspoon 2 years, 6 months ago

Maybe the movie " Children of the corn " was a true story after all ????

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none2 2 years, 6 months ago

You have to watch out for those 80 year old bullies. I tremble with fear around them. I too probably need a carry & conceal license to protect myself from the danger of running into one in a field. I'm sure we have all seen those horror fields about what can happen in a corn field. It is a DANGEROUS world out there.

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consumer1 2 years, 6 months ago

y says, "Maybe the dead cousin was a bully". So now will there have to be a police officer stationed in each corn field in Ks. To prevent this kind of bullying?

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 6 months ago

I don't really know Mr. James, but he's long been a frequent patron of downtown establishments-- including the Free State. He's never impressed me as being prone to violence in any way.

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Pywacket 2 years, 6 months ago

When this becomes a Hallmark made-for-TV Sunday movie, they can get Woody Allen to depict the murder suspect. Add a rug to Woody's bald head, change his glasses for contacts, and he's a ringer.

Seriously, though, this is a sad situation. Sounds like the suspect is a good person who maybe had had his buttons pushed by the "victim" all his life...? Not that that would excuse murder, but it may go some way to explaining it. Maybe the dead cousin was a bully.

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Getaroom 2 years, 6 months ago

Please fix the typo in the next incarnation of the article:

Lt. Ed Ogle, commander of the investigations division for the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office, describes what officials believe happen (ed) next:

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The_Original_Bob 2 years, 6 months ago

"-so, maybe the really old dude insisted on burning his land, posing danger to the old brothers and their crop?"

/Nodding

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toe 2 years, 6 months ago

Pretty decent retirement plan. Free room, board, and medical.

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Scott Morgan 2 years, 6 months ago

or maybe he thought his cousin was a big rabbit. It's a rare problem called Harveyitus.

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bearded_gnome 2 years, 6 months ago

helping his brother harvest soybeans on land they own together.

---so, maybe the really old dude insisted on burning his land, posing danger to the old brothers and their crop?

this is just sad.

maybe really old dude had dementia, and couldn't be reasoned with. sometimes people with dementia can become dangerous.

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xclusive85 2 years, 6 months ago

Since when does the LJW start putting addresses in these types of stories?

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klauxman 2 years, 6 months ago

This is a terrible situation involving a good man. There is surely more to the story. Please reserve judgment.

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Cant_have_it_both_ways 2 years, 6 months ago

Should have gotten out of the grain truck and onto the plow!

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The_Original_Bob 2 years, 6 months ago

"they seemed to have a lot of firepower for harvesting soybeans"

"Must be some big critters in those fields if you have to have that much firepower to harvest crops."

Shocking that a farmer would have guns.

Probably a long-simmering conflict over who owns what boiled over. Long-standing farms that have been split up in the weirdest ways possible within a family over generations probably boiled over.

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somebodynew 2 years, 6 months ago

Must be some big critters in those fields if you have to have that much firepower to harvest crops.

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irvan moore 2 years, 6 months ago

they seemed to have a lot of firepower for harvesting soybeans

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pace 2 years, 6 months ago

Murder in the field. Sad,

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newmedia 2 years, 6 months ago

Probably wanted to plant beans next year and his cousin wanted to rotate to corn...

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DRsmith 2 years, 6 months ago

Crazy, good for nothing Lawrence residents wreaking havoc on other peaceful cities.

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somebodynew 2 years, 6 months ago

Thanks Alex, I knew this was a preliminary article and expected updates later. I am sure the answer is either ebyrd's or py's.

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hawkergirl 2 years, 6 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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Alex Parker 2 years, 6 months ago

We're working to gather more details on the story, including your question, somebodynew.

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Pywacket 2 years, 6 months ago

Or.... the murder victim had multiple personalities...?

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ebyrdstarr 2 years, 6 months ago

somebody, it's probably 4 different kinds of murder charged in the alternative. Just covering all possible bases, but he would only be convicted of 1 count. (If at all...)

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somebodynew 2 years, 6 months ago

Not saying it couldn't happen - but, how does one get charged with 4 counts of murder when only one person died ????

Anyway, sad situation that people that age have to resort to that level of violence.

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