Slain man’s family reacts to not guilty verdict: “They’re angry”

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — After a not guilty verdict Thursday in a 2017 Champaign murder, a niece of the victim has one question: “How?”

A jury Thursday acquitted 27 year-old Jamonte Hill in the shooting death of 53 year-old Gus Edwards. Online records show Hill was released from jail shortly after the verdict was read.

“So much pointed to this person to make us think he was the killer,” said Alexis Edwards of Urbana, a niece of Gus Edwards who was at the courthouse for part of this week’s trial.

Edwards called her uncle’s murder a “wicked night.” She didn’t know if Gus Edwards was acquainted with Hill. Alexis Edwards also heard in court this week that Gus Edwards was out that night to get drugs, although she said that’s not her business.

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Jamonte Hill (above) was found not guilty Thursday in the shooting death of Gus Edwards.

Edwards is remembering her uncle – who she said stood at just four feet tall – as a family man who was always riding his bike. “Anytime he saw me, even if it was just at the library, he always gave me some money and told me he loved me,” Edwards said. “And [he] just told me to be safe.”

Alexis Edwards holds a photo of her uncle Gus Edwards at the WCIA studio on January 6, 2022.

Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Rietz did not have an immediate comment on Thursday’s verdict. Assistant state’s attorney Lindsey Clark-Rivest handled the trial, but Rietz generally speaks for her office.

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