Suspect in Boulder Hill drive-by shooting retains Chicago criminal attorney

Incident last November left one dead, one with life-threatening injuries

James E. Brown, Jr.

YORKVILLE - James E. Brown Jr., 26, of the 200 block of Linn Court, North Aurora, one of the alleged gunmen in last November’s deadly drive-by shooting in the unincorporated Boulder Hill subdivision, now has a lawyer as he faces pretrial hearings.

Brown’s lawyer, well-known Chicago criminal attorney Joseph “The Shark” Lopez, appeared in court remotely for the first time as Brown’s counsel on Wednesday, Jan. 6.

Lopez’s client faces four felony charges for the deadly gang-related shooting at 0-99 Sierra Road that killed one woman and left another with life-threatening injuries. The charges include first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, aggravated battery with a firearm and aggravated discharge of a firearm.

Twenty-third Circuit Chief Judge Robert Pilmer has set Brown’s bond at $2 million.

Brown’s alleged accomplice in the shooting, Jaquarance Handley, 31, of the 900 block of Bluebell Circle in Joliet, faces identical charges and will appear in court later this month.

“I do a lot of murder cases,” Lopez said in an interview after the pretrial hearing. “It’s an interesting case.”

Lopez is not new to representing alleged members of organized crime outfits. He represented Chicago mob boss Frank Calabrese in the landmark Family Secrets trial and has worked as an attorney for members of Latin American drug cartels.

As for the Boulder Hill case, Lopez said he has yet to decide whether he will hire a local attorney to represent Brown.

Brown’s case stems from a shooting that occurred in the late morning of Nov. 11 on Sierra Road, where Brown and Handley allegedly shot an AR-15 into a residential home during an attempted gang hit. Two women were shot: one in her 40s who later died of her injuries at a nearby hospital, and another in her 20s, who faced life-threatening injuries. The intended target of the shooting escaped, Kendall County Sheriff Dwight Baird confirmed in November.

Kendall County authorities apprehended Brown and Handley, and recovered the reported murder weapon within hours of the shooting with assistance from local residents and the Aurora Police Department. Both Brown and Handley have been in custody at the Kendall County Jail since Nov. 11 on a $2 million bond.

Brown will appear in court for his next pretrial hearing Tuesday, Feb. 9.