Crime & Courts

Man pleads guilty to misdemeanor in deadly Joliet shootout case

Attorney said prosecutors could not prove murder charge against his client

After a man spent almost a year in jail on murder and other charges, his case ended Wednesday with him accepting prosecutors’ offer to plead guilty to only a misdemeanor in connection with a deadly shootout that occurred a block away from a Joliet hospital.

Rasean Stokes, 19, was released from the Will County jail Feb. 2 after Will County Chief Judge Dan Kennedy dismissed two first-degree murder charges and granted his attorney’s request for a lower bond.

Rasean Stokes

Stokes was arrested roughly a year ago in connection with a Feb. 7, 2020, shootout on Republic Avenue, about a block away from AMITA Health Saint Joseph Medical Center. Stokes was initially charged with co-defendant Jeremiah Gavin, 22, with killing Jeremiah Frazier, 17, who died from a gunshot wound to his head.

Stokes accepted an offer from Will County Assistant State’s Attorney Deborah Mills on Wednesday to plead guilty to attempting to obstructing justice, which allowed him to avoid contending with the remaining felony charges of aggravated discharge of a firearm and aiding a fugitive.

The misdemeanor charge said that Stokes intended to obstruct the prosecution of Gavin, Javontae Gray, 23, and “other individuals involved” in the shootout when he “knowingly concealed physical evidence” by driving Gavin away from “the scene of the shooting with the gun Gavin had fired.”

The charge also said Stokes “failed to immediately report the incident to the authorities and communicated electronically with others to not talk about the shooting.”

Kennedy sentenced Stokes to 364 days in jail over the misdemeanor offense but he will actually not have to serve any more time as he received credit for spending almost a year in a jail.

“Sentence is considered served,” Kennedy’s order said.

Stokes also received day-for-day credit for the 364-day sentence, which would’ve put his actual sentence at 182 days.

Stokes’ attorney Jeff Tomczak said his client served double the amount of the time he would’ve served in jail over the attempt obstructing justice charge.

Tomczak said Stokes was “definitely overcharged” and he called upon the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office to “take a long, hard look” at how the charges were filed in the case, so they make sure it doesn’t happen again.

“There was no conceivable way they could prove a first-degree murder charge against this young man,” Tomczak said.

Will County State’s Attorney spokeswoman Carole Cheney did not immediately respond to questions about Stokes’ case on Wednesday.

The criminal cases against Gray and Gavin remain pending in court.

Police secure the scene of a shooting Friday, along Republic Avenue in Joliet.

Felix Sarver

Felix Sarver

Felix Sarver covers crime and courts for The Herald-News