The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

March 5, 2014

Trial begins for former Kentucky resident

Accused of home invasion, murder attempt

BY BRIAN L. HUCHEL bhuchel@dancomnews.com
The Commercial-News

---- — DANVILLE — Trial proceedings began this week for a man accused of a 2011 home invasion and murder attempt on an Alvin resident.

Jury selection began Tuesday morning in the trial of Jason Irwin, 42, on one count of attempted murder, a Class X felony, and three counts of home invasion, also Class X felonies. Irwin has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Vermilion County State’s Attorney Randy Brinegar indicated jury selection was expected to begin Tuesday for the case. The trial itself, barring any last minute issues raised, is expected to wrap up by the end of the week, he indicated.

Irwin, then a resident of Albany, Ky., was arrested on May 20, 2011, and charged in the March 27, 2011, early morning shooting at a home in the 100 block of South Street in Alvin.

According to preliminary hearing testimony from Vermilion County Sheriff’s Department investigators, the shooting incident was the culmination of encounters throughout the evening between Irwin and Michael Reffett Jr. of Alvin and his girlfriend, Tess Haga.

Reffett Jr. told investigators he heard a car pull into his driveway and recognized it as Irwin’s. He then watched Irwin walk to the rear of the home. Reffett, picking up a shotgun, walked into his kitchen where he encountered Irwin.

Investigators testified that Reffett began to order Irwin out of the home when the defendant fired a .45-caliber handgun, hitting Reffett several times. Both exchanged gunfire at that point, with Reffett hitting Irwin with a second blast from the shotgun.

A search of the scene found a second handgun in Irwin’s pocket. A total of 15 shells from Irwin’s .45-caliber were found as well as two shells from Reffett’s shotgun.

The attempted murder charge is punishable by up to 30 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections, if Irwin is convicted. According to Brinegar, each home invasion count was filed with special penalties adding at least 20 years to the term of imprisonment imposed by the court if the jury determines that Irwin caused great bodily harm to Reffett by firing his gun.

Both Reffett and Irwin were airlifted from Presence United Samaritans Medical Center to Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana for treatment following the shooting. Reffett suffered four gunshot wounds — three to the abdomen and one to the arm — while Irwin continued to receive treatment two months following the incident.