JANESVILLE—The reason for Janesville's first homicide in three years remained a mystery after a suspect appeared in Rock County Court on Tuesday.
Barquis D. McKnight was formally charged Tuesday with first-degree intentional homicide and possession of a firearm by a felon.
Police had identified the defendant as Barquis D. Odom, but the criminal complaint lists him as Barquis D. McKnight, 32, and says he is also known as Barquis Odom and Barquis Odom-McKnight.
McKnight is accused of shooting and killing Eddie L. Jones, 28, of Markham, Illinois, shortly after midnight Sunday.
McKnight gave two slightly different versions of events, according to the criminal complaint, and both versions involve a stranger with a gun appearing outside 116 S. Franklin St., where four men were smoking, according to the complaint.
“We were all out there smoking weed” and “someone ran through and lit off a couple rounds,” the complaint quotes McKnight as saying.
Some witnesses said they heard shots shortly after midnight Sunday and then saw Jones enter the house, bleeding, according to the complaint.
One witness said he was hanging out at the residence with McKnight when Jones and a relative of McKnight's showed up, according to the complaint.
Jones and McKnight argued and later stepped outside, the witness said, and then the relative stepped out, and that's when shots were heard, according to the complaint.
McKnight's relative told police Jones and McKnight had been arguing all night but said he didn't know why, according to the complaint.
The relative said the two men went outside, and as the relative stepped out to join them, there were gunshots and McKnight had shot Jones, according to the complaint.
The relative said Jones was not threatening McKnight, and Jones did not have a weapon, according to the complaint.
An officer responding to a call at 12:07 a.m. Sunday found Jones sitting on a couch in the residence with “significant” injuries to his mouth and jaw. Officers tried to slow the bleeding and establish an airway, the complaint states, but Jones later was pronounced dead at nearby Mercy Hospital and Trauma Center in Janesville.
An autopsy found Jones was shot in the jaw, and the bullet hit major arteries before exiting the neck, according to the complaint. Another bullet hit near his left elbow.
Blood, shell casings and unspent bullets were found outside a back door to the residence, according to the complaint, along with a bullet hole in a window near the back door.
A neighbor reported hearing shots and then seeing a vehicle leaving the residence, squealing its tires, according to the complaint.
Police said Sunday that Jones was on probation on a delivery-of-cocaine conviction and was found with heroin in his possession but didn't say how much.
In court Tuesday, Court Commissioner Larry Barton agreed with the prosecution on bail, ordering McKnight held on a $500,000 cash bond.
Assistant District Attorney Gwanny Tjoa argued that the state has a strong case, with witnesses putting McKnight at the scene, a charge that could lead to life imprisonment and McKnight having a “long” criminal history that includes convictions for drug dealing and some missed court appearances.
The criminal complaint does not make the case that drug dealing was a factor in the shooting. The only possible suggestion of drug dealing was in one of McKnight's versions, when he said he stepped outside because he believed others were going to “talk business” and that he didn't think he should hear it because he had been a police informant in the past.
Defense attorney Jason Sanders argued McKnight is not a flight risk.
McKnight was born and raised in Beloit, is raising his children there, recently graduated from Blackhawk Technical College with a degree in heating/ventilation/air conditioning and coaches baseball and basketball, Sanders said.
McKnight said in court Tuesday that he lives at 1322 Portland Ave., Beloit. One of his bond conditions was that he have no contact with three witnesses.
A preliminary hearing was set for 1:45 p.m. Friday, June 9.