HAMMOND, Ill. (WCIA) — The Illinois State Police Division of Criminal Investigation announced today that 19-year-old Jerome Schmidt of Springfield has been convicted of first-degree murder.

At approximately 3 a.m. on Tues., Jan. 26, 2021, the Piatt County Sheriff’s Department responded to Michael J. Brown’s home in Hammond. Mr. Brown had gone outside to investigate after seeing people on his security camera. Shortly after, his wife heard several shots fired. She ran to the garage and found her husband bleeding from multiple places. He later died of his injuries at his home.

ISP investigated three suspects, including Schmidt, who were identified and eventually taken into custody.

Schmidt’s half-brother, Blayton Cote, is still waiting for a trial date. The third suspect, a juvenile, struck a plea deal and was convicted for burglary.

A bench trial began on Jan. 9, 2023, the Piatt County State’s Attorney’s Office and Schmidt’s defense team presented their cases. Piatt County Judge Dana Rhoads found Schmidt guilty of first-degree murder on Jan. 17.

Piatt County State’s Attorney Sarah Perry said she was happy with the judge’s decision.”

State police did a great job and I think it was the right verdict,” Perry said. “She definitely considered all of the law and the facts and came to the right ruling.”

ISP said Schmidt will return to court for a sentencing hearing on Feb. 23.