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Aurora man not guilty in murder

CevStanford 31 charged murder James McClose 2004.

Cevin Stanford, 31, charged in the murder of James McClose in 2004.

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Updated: January 15, 2013 11:24AM

ST. CHARLES TOWNSHIP — An Aurora man has been found not guilty of shooting a sleeping man in 2004.

Late Wednesday night, a Kane County jury decided that prosecutors had not proved Cevin Stanford, 31, fired the shots that killed James McClose Jr. as he slept in his apartment in the 1300 block of Monomoy Street.

McClose, the father of one girl, was shot multiple times in the back in May of 2004.

According to court records, McClose, a 22-year-old former gang member, had been in an argument with other gang members before the shooting.

Police said they received a description of a suspect’s car just five minutes after the shooting was reported. Police followed the car to a cemetery on Indian Trail and ran after the suspects, who dropped clothing and guns as they fled. The men escaped, but a gun they left behind matched bullets recovered at McClose’s house.

During the three-day trial, Stanford’s cousin Michael Smith testified that Stanford ran back to his apartment shortly after McClose was killed and said police would be looking for him. Police arrived a few minutes later. Smith said Stanford later admitted to shooting McClose.

But defense attorney Ron Dolak said the jury questioned Smith’s honesty. Smith never told police anything he may have known about the shooting until he was charged in a separate incident also involving Stanford. On July 4, 2006, Smith and Stanford were arrested for a shooting that injured three teens.

Smith, a military veteran who served in Iraq, received a plea deal in that case which substantially reduced his possible prison time if he testified against Stanford.

“They jury told us they did not believe the cousin,” Dolak said. “Cevin is happy it’s resolved. It was hanging over his head.”

Stanford is still headed back to prison, however. He was sentenced to 96 years for the 2006 shooting. He is projected to be released in 2089, according to prison records.

In that shooting, Stanford and Smith approached five men and opened fire on Aurora’s West Side. Stanford and Smith then got into a waiting car and fled. Police responded quickly and followed the car across the city, as guns were tossed out, prosecutors said. Smith is scheduled to be released in May 2014, according to prison records.

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