Joliet man convicted of first-degree murder in 2018 shooting death

Elijah Watson

Joliet — Elijah Watson has been found guilty of the 2018 fatal shooting of Nathan Ballard.

Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow announced the verdict Tuesday. Watson, 28, of Joliet was convicted by Circuit Judge Vincent Cornelius on charges of first-degree murder and the unlawful use of a weapon, which is a Class 2 felony, after a five-day bench trial, according to a news release from the state’s attorney’s office.

Watson’s co-defendant Anthony Francimore was previously found guilty of first-degree murder and armed robbery.

The shooting took place Oct. 28, 2018, after Watson and Francimore had arranged to meet Ballard and his brother in the 500 block of Fox Street in Joliet Township under the guise of selling them ecstasy. The two men planned to take $75 from Ballard without giving him the drugs, according to the release.

After taking the money, Francimore returned to the car he’d arrived in where Watson and three other men were waiting.

Ballard and his brother tried to stop Francimore, but Watson pointed a gun at them, according to prosecutors. Although the two victims stepped away, Watson fired several shots in their direction as the car drove away, one of which fatally struck Nathan Ballard in the chest, according to the release.

Watson is eligible for a sentence ranging from 45 years to life in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for May 23, and the sentence will be served at 100%, according to the release.

In the statement announcing the verdict, Glasgow thanked Assistant State’s Attorneys Christine Vukmir, Michael Fitzgerald, Katie Rabenda, and Jon Walters, Victim Witness Advocates Danette Pasdertz and Emma Rannells, Legal Secretary Nikkol McGuire, IT Specialists Albert Bailey and Braulio Guzman, Investigators Shawn Filipiak, Pat Cardwell, Scott Lustik, and Mark Reavis, as well as the Will County Sheriff’s Department and Shorewood Police Department, for their “outstanding work and commitment in this matter.”