Will County judge rejects lower man’s bond in Crest Hill murder case

Bond kept at $2.5 million for Dwight Watkins in fatal shooting case

A Will County judge declined to lower the $2.5 million bond for a man charged with the fatal shooting of another man outside a Crest Hill Taco Bell.

Jeff Tomczak and Steve Haney, attorneys for Dwight Watkins, 24, of Plainfield, filed a motion on Aug. 24 to lower the bond for their client. The motion said Watkins was a victim of a premeditated armed robbery during the incident that led to the fatal shooting of 21-year-old William Spruell.

“This case begins with the state knowing my client was going to be the victim of an armed robbery,” Tomczak said at Tuesday’s court hearing.

Crest Hill Police Chief Ed Clark said Spruell was gunned down April 24, 2020, outside the 1818 Plainfield Road Taco Bell. Clark said Spruell and Watkins were at the parking lot for a drug transaction when the two got into an altercation and Watkins shot Spruell.

Watkins was charged with first-degree murder in connection with the incident.

Will County Assistant State’s Attorney Mark Fleszewski objected to Tomczak’s request to lower Watkins’ $2.5 million bond to $250,000. Fleszewski argued Watkins has several pending cases and witnesses at the scene of the shooting identified Watkins as the one who shot Spruell in the back.

Will County Judge Carmen Goodman denied Watkins’ attorneys’ request for a lower bond.

Tomczak said at the hearing that Spruell and another man planned to rob Watkins of marijuana.

Tomczak said Spruell was at the scene in his own vehicle and then went to Watkins’ vehicle, where a scuffle occurred and a shot was fired. He said forensic evidence showed Spruell’s blood was on an extended firearm magazine found at the scene and there was no evidence that Watkins had contact with that magazine.

Tomczak argued that Watkins was “not the aggressor” in the incident and he had a right to defend himself.

Fleszewski countered that Watkins was identified by witnesses as the shooter and that Spruell was unarmed when he was shot in the back after a struggle inside a vehicle. He said the autopsy showed Spruell was not shot at close range.

“It’s not a whodunit as to what happened,” Fleszewski said.

Fleszewski said Watkins also has several cases that are still pending in court.

Since 2018, Watkins has been charged with felony possession of marijuana and felony aggravated fleeing, court records show. Prosecutors have also filed a petition to revoke Watkins’ probation in 2017 case where he pleaded guilty to possessing marijuana that had a street value of $4,697, records show.

Felix Sarver

Felix Sarver

Felix Sarver covers crime and courts for The Herald-News