Judge finds rural Lawrence man not guilty by reason of insanity in murder of cousin in Illinois

A 68-year-old Lawrence area man has been found not guilty by reason of insanity in the October 2011 shooting death of his cousin at a family soybean field near Champaign, Ill.

Gerard James

Gerard James, who lives just south of Lawrence, was charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Harlan James, 80, Champaign. Harlan was Gerard’s cousin, and Gerard was working with Harlan on family-owned property at the time of the shooting.

Gerard’s defense attorney has previously said Gerard shot Harlan because he was afraid him.

Following an in-patient mental health evaluation, an Illinois judge handed down the decision Monday during a bench trial. Three other charges associated with the case were also dropped. Gerard James could have faced up to life in prison if found guilty.

The judge ordered that James be transferred to the state’s human service department and to an in-patient mental health facility for further evaluation. The courts also now has the option of involuntarily committing to him to in-patient treatment.