UPDATED 12:45 P.M. WEDNESDAY, JAN. 15:
YORKVILLE – A Kendall County judge found an Aurora man guilty on charges related to the 2018 hit-and-run death of an Oswego High School softball coach.
Kendall County Chief Judge Robert Pilmer ruled on Wednesday, Jan. 15 that Nehemiah Williams, 39, of Aurora was guilty for failing to report an accident involving a death and reckless homicide, which are Class 1 and 3 felonies respectively, in the death of Amanda Stanton of Lockport. He said he found all arguments the state made to convict Williams of the charges to be credible.
Kendall County State's Attorney Eric Weis said these types of cases are difficult to prosecute due to people leaving the scene, reconstruction happening the next morning or days later and not having eye witnesses for the actual incident. He said he attributed the verdict to police who investigated the case and civilians who came out to look for Stanton.
"A lot of good work went into the initial investigation, which allowed us to do our job," Weis said.
Weis said the Stanton family was relieved to hear the judge's verdict in court on Wednesday. He said he was very pleased with the judge's ruling for the family's sake, though nothing will change what happened to Stanton on June 23, 2018 or will bring her back.
"But at least it gives some closure to them and to move forward, for the Stanton family, and take the next step in their grieving process," Weis said.
Family and friends of Amanda Stanton were not immediately available for comment after the verdict. Weis said they have until the sentencing hearing scheduled for 1 p.m. March 30 at the Kendall County courthouse, 807 W. John St., to decide whether to give victim impact statements.
Pilmer also ruled to revoke Williams’s bond following the verdict. Williams was not immediately available for comment following the verdict.
Dawn Projansky, Williams’s lawyer, said after the hearing that there’s not much to say except she’s “just disappointed” in the judge’s verdict and that “it’s a tragedy” regarding the death of Amanda Stanton. She said she anticipates filing notice of appeal for the ruling, per what her office usually does in cases like this.
Williams previously pleaded guilty to a driving with a revoked or suspended license charge, which is a Class 4 felony, during a Jan. 8, 2020 court hearing.
Williams could face up to 15 years in prison for failing to report an accident involving a death and up to five years in prison for reckless homicide. It's unclear whether the prison time served for each charge will be concurrent or consecutive.
Stanton, who was 26 years old when she died, was struck by Williams – who was driving a silver Chrysler Pacifica that belonged to his girlfriend – at about 11 p.m. on June 23, 2018 or midnight on June 24, 2018 on Plainfield Road near Plainsman Court in rural Oswego Township, according to prosecutors. Stanton's body was found at the base of a tree several feet from the side of the road the following afternoon by a groundskeeper.
According to prosecutors, police found the vehicle – which had damage including the passenger side of the windshield being shattered, the front bumper hanging off from the same side and a missing headlight from the same side – three days later in the driveway of a mechanic, who did not testify during the trial. Prosecutors allege that Williams wanted to get the vehicle quickly repaired, before the damage and crime could be uncovered.