BY BRIAN L. HUCHEL
A running dispute regarding a piece of property just outside of Tilton came to a fatal climax Wednesday afternoon.
Vermilion County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of gunshots around 4 p.m. Wednesday in the 600- block of East 13th Street, just outside Tilton village limits.
Outside 647 E. 13th St., responding law enforcement personnel found 68-year-old Donnie Davis suffering from several gunshot wounds. His nephew, 56-year-old Billy Richardson — who lived at the address — was later arrested on a preliminary charge of murder.
The shooting took place almost exactly at the time that Richardson was expected, under court order, to vacate the home at 647 E. 13th St. The deadline was issued under court order in a lawsuit filed by Davis in 2011.
Vermilion County court records depict an ongoing battle about the home and property — which originally belonged to Davis’ mother, Zora — and where Richardson had lived with Zora Davis since 1996.
The men had squared off with regard to possession of the property as early as a 2008 probate case regarding the Zora Davis estate, of which Donnie Davis was named executor.
In that case, Richardson alleged that Davis had been “hateful” to him and “just crazy,” according to a transcript of court proceedings from Sept. 22, 2009.
“He threatened to kill me,” Richardson also testified during those court proceedings.
Despite his in-court testimony, Richardson never filed for an order of protection against Davis. And according to court records, neither Richardson nor Davis has had felony or misdemeanor charges filed against them in Vermilion County.
In the lawsuit filed in 2011, Davis contended Richardson was unlawfully staying at the residence. Richardson, who had said he was purchasing the property, admitted he had no written lease with Zora Davis and never signed a deed for the property.
A decision was issued by the court on Oct. 4 of this year, giving the property to Donnie Davis. The court stayed the order turning over possession of the property to Davis until 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Witnesses said the men began arguing around 4 p.m. outside the home before Richardson fired a handgun at Davis, striking him several times. Richardson then fled into a wooded area near the Vermilion River. Police later arrested him shortly before 7 p.m. Wednesday at a house in the 2000 block of Perrysville Road.
Davis was pronounced dead just after 4:30 p.m. at Provena United Samaritans Medical Center.
Richardson did not make his first court appearance in connection with the case on Thursday. Vermilion County State’s Attorney Randy Brinegar said late Thursday afternoon that he planned to file counts of first-degree murder against Richardson.
Richardson is expected to appear for arraignment this afternoon via video feed from the Public Safety Building.
First-degree murder, under state statute, is punishable by up to 60 years or potentially a life sentence in the Illinois Department of Corrections.
Wednesday’s shooting is the third homicide this year in Vermilion County. No arrests have been made in the other two incidents — a man shot in the 500 block of Robinson Street and a woman found dead as a result of blunt force trauma in her home on Porter Street.