Crime & Courts

Man plans to raise self-defense claim in Crest Hill murder case

Plainfield defendant seeks to have $2.5 million bond reduced

Attorneys for a man charged with fatally shooting a man in Crest Hill claim he acted in self-defense and he was the victim of a “pre-planned armed robbery,” court records show.

Since Aug. 25, 2020, Dwight Watkins, 24, of Plainfield, has been in the Will County jail on first-degree murder charges in connection with the fatal shooting of 21-year-old William Spruell.

Spruell was gunned down on April 24, 2020, outside of Taco Bell, 1818 Plainfield Road, said Crest Hill Police Chief Ed Clark.

Watkins’ attorneys Steven Haney and Jeff Tomczak filed a motion on Aug. 24 to reduce their client’s $2.5 million bond. The motion is slated for a hearing on Sept. 16.

One of the arguments raised in the motion was that Watkins planned to assert he was acting in self-defense.

“Defendant shall be asserting the affirmative defense of self-defense as it is believed the evidence will show that he was a victim of a pre-planned armed robbery and his use of force was legally justified,” the bond reduction motion said.

Spruell was the one who was trying to rob Watkins, according to Tomczak.

“That’s what we believe the evidence will show at trial,” Tomczak said.

Clark referred questions on Watkins’ claim to the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office. When asked about the self-defense claim in the motion, Carole Cheney, state’s attorney spokeswoman, said prosecutors will oppose the bond reduction motion and will provide a response in court.

Clark has previously said that based on evidence and information gathered from the investigation, Watkins and Spruell were at the parking lot of the restaurant for a drug transaction when the two got into an altercation and Watkins shot Spruell with a pistol. He said Spruell suffered a single gunshot wound.

Officers responded to the shooting and found evidence of a gun attack outside the Taco Bell but no sign of a victim, police said.

Officers later learned Spruell died at AMITA Health Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, Clark said.

Watkins’ attorneys said in the bond reduction motion that their client has significant ties to the community, no history of failing to appear in court and is a candidate for home detention upon release from jail.

“Bond as currently set is oppressive and there is no evidence to indicate that defendant will not appear at future court appearances,” the bond reduction motion said.