Jury convicts man in Will County neighbor shooting

October 15, 2010 5:31:39 PM PDT
A jury returned a guilty verdict in the trial of a University Park man accused of fatally shooting his neighbor in May.

Jurors found Charles Clements guilty of a class one felony, but it was not the first-degree murder charge that prosecutors argued for. Instead, he was convicted of second-degree murder.

The family of the victim, Joshua Funches, 23, was apparently disappointed, and some were visibly upset. They left court Friday without speaking to reporters.

Jurors took about four hours to deliberate before deciding Clements was guilty of second-degree murder for the shooting in May of Funches, his neighbor.

"The second-degree murder stipulation alleges that he believed his life was in jeopardy, but that belief was unreasonable," said Will County State's Attorney spokesperson Charles Pelkie.

The conviction carries a sentence ranging from four to 20 years in prison, but it is possible Clements could receive probation and avoid prison.

Clements told police that Funches let his dog relieve himself on Clements' front lawn, which sparked an argument that led to the shooting. In court, Clements, a retired truck driver and Marine, said Funches punched him, and that Clements fired the gun to defend himself.

Prosecutors, however, said Funches was the aggressor, and they had asked for a first-degree murder conviction.

"The victim in this case, Joshua Funches, was actually defending himself and during the course of defending himself he did punch Mr. Clements, who once again had a handgun and that Mr. Clements then shot Joshua Funches and killed him," said Pelkie.

Prosecutors say police found no evidence that the dog had actually soiled Clements' lawn.

Clements is free on $75,000 bail and is set to return to the courthouse to be sentenced on December 21.


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