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Local News

Lawyer for Aurora man found guilty in hit-and-run death asks for reconsidered verdict

Nehemiah Williams
Nehemiah Williams

YORKVILLE – An Aurora man who was found guilty on charges related to the 2018 hit-and-run death of an Oswego High School softball coach is requesting a Kendall County judge to reconsider the verdict or grant a new trial.

Nehemiah Williams, 40, of the 100 block of Gregory Street, Aurora, was found guilty of failure ot report an accident related to the death of Amanda Stanton of Lockport and reckless homicide, which are Class 1 and 3 felonies respectively, by Kendall County Chief Judge Robert Pilmer during a bench trial that ended Jan. 15. Dawn Projansky, lawyer for Williams, filed a motion for Pilmer to reconsider his ruling or grant a new trial two weeks later.

Projansky wrote in Kendall County court documents prosecutors failed to prove Williams guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and the state failed to prove every material allegation of the offenses beyond a reasonable doubt. She wrote she did not believe Williams received a fair and impartial trial and that prosecutors made prejudicial, inflammatory and erroneous statements in their closing arguments.

"This was a case based on circumstantial evidence as the State itself argued in closing arguments," Projansky wrote.

Projansky wrote Stanton possibly leaving her purse behind on accident after relieving herself on the side of the road is a more plausible argument than the one from the state, who suggested Williams removed Stanton's purse – the contents of which were not broken or scratched – from the dashboard of his vehicle after he hit her. She also argued Williams, who was driving without glasses when the crash occurred, only had a mild eye-care correction needed at night and would not have been driving illegally if it were daytime, according to court documents.

The motion comes after Projansky said following the Jan. 15 verdict that she anticipated 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.

Prosecutors said 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 said Williams knew he had hit a person and wanted to get the vehicle quickly repaired, before the damage and crime could be uncovered.

Projansky also argued in court documents there was no quick fix attempt by Williams to hide the damage, since his damaged vehicle was found outside in Aurora without repair, three days later.

Kendall County State's Attorney Eric Weis said his office will be filing a response – which he doesn't anticipate being lengthy – within the 10 days before Williams's sentencing hearing later this month.

"We just not have done so as of yet," Weis said.

Weis said Williams will be credited for the number of days spent in Kendall County Jail from his January trial to March 30 – along with however long he sat in custody before he bonded out from his initial 2018 arrest – toward his imposed sentence.

The sentencing hearing for Williams is scheduled for 1 p.m. March 30 at the Kendall County Courthouse, 807 W. John St.

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