DeKalb woman charged with murder in July 2020 shooting rejects prosecutor’s plea offer

Katrina Edwards rejects plea deal in favor of trial which could bring decades in prison if convicted in 2020 fatal shooting

(Left to right) Jimmy D. Edwards, 33, an Katrina L. Edwards, 37, are both charged with first degree murder in the shooting death of 29-year-old Chrishun Keeler-Tyus during a July 4, 2020 incident. The Edwardses appeared for a status hearing Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021 via Zoom from the DeKalb County Jail, and are set to go to a combined jury trial in January of 2022. (Photo illustration by Kelsey Rettke, Courthouse photo by Mark Black for Shaw Media, mugshots from DeKalb County Jail)

SYCAMORE – A DeKalb woman charged alongside her husband in the 2020 fatal shooting of a 29-year-old DeKalb man in front of his children rejected prosecutor’s plea offer recently in favor of a trial, opting out of a six-year prison sentence for a chance that, if convicted, could see her serving more than 70 years.

It’s not yet been determined whether Katrina L. Edwards’ fate will be decided by a judge in a bench trial or a jury of her peers in a regular trial. Edwards, 39, told her defense attorney, however, that she’d rather have a trial than a plea deal.

“Since I have been reviewing the case in anticipation of the state’s very generous offer, I am going to need a significant amount of time to prep this for trial,” Edwards’ Sycamore-based defense lawyer Melanie Fialkowski said at a Dec. 21 hearing.

Prosecutors with the DeKalb County State’s Attorney’s office had offered Edwards a deal that would have seen her plead guilty to aggravated battery with a firearm, a Class X felony – instead of the more serious Class M felony she faces of first-degree murder. In exchange, she would have been sentenced to six years in prison and required to serve 85%. She’s been held in DeKalb County Jail on a $750,000 bail since her July 2020 arrest.

Fialkowski said if her client had accepted the plea deal, she would have had 600 more days to go until release. Edwards has been in jail for more 3½ years.

Instead, Edwards wants to go to trial on first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder charges. If convicted of the former, she could face between 35 to 75 years in prison. If convicted of the latter, she could face 21 to 45 years in prison. If convicted of both, the sentences would be served consecutively, judge Philip Montgomery said.

“Is that correct that you do not wish to take the state’s offer?” Montgomery asked. “Yes, sir,” Edwards said in reply.

Fialkowski asked Montgomery for time to compile her client’s defense for trial. Montgomery insisted a trial on the nearly four-year case should happen sooner rather than later. A tentative date has been set for March 4.

“She is the least culpable person in this case,” Montgomery said to Filakowski. “You’ve had a year to get ready.”

Family members await trial in July 4, ‘20 shooting

Katrina and her husband, Jimmy D. Edwards, 35, both of DeKalb, are two of four charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Chrishun Keeler-Tyus.

The 29-year-old father died after he was shot following a verbal argument with Katrina Edwards at a FasMart gas station in the 900 block of South Fourth Street in DeKalb on July 4, 2020, according to DeKalb County court records. Police said Keeler-Tyus’s young children were in the car at the time he was shot.

Jimmy Edwards’ brother, Emanuel Edwards, and a fourth person, Esaiah Escamilla, also are charged with first-degree murder, a Class M felony. Prosecutors allege Escamilla is the one who fired the gun.

(Left to right) Emanuel Edwards and Esaiah Escamilla are both charged with first degree murder in the shooting death of 29-year-old Chrishun Keeler-Tyus following the incident at a FasMart in DeKalb on July 4, 2020. (Photo from DeKalb County Jail)

Police say the shooting happened after Katrina Edwards got into an argument with Keeler-Tyus at the gas pump and allegedly called her husband. Jimmy Edwards allegedly then called several other family members and Escamilla, who arrived at the gas station and shot Keeler-Tyus and his girlfriend.

Jimmy Edwards is being held on a $1 million bond at the DeKalb County Jail. He would have to post 10%, or $100,000, to get out of jail.

The husband and wife are due back in court at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday as prosecutors seek to stamp down a date for their trial. They were to be tried jointly, according to court records, though its unclear if that plan will move forward.

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