Sunday, June 16, 2024

Mental fitness question resolved in Ottawa shooting death case

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The man charged with pulling the trigger in an Ottawa shooting death will stand trial for murder Aug. 5.

Nicolaus J. Phillips, 24, of Spring Valley made an unscheduled appearance Thursday in La Salle County Circuit Court. He is charged with first-degree murder for allegedly shooting and killing Eric Clements in June outside Clements’ Ottawa home.

The trial has been on hold since Public Defender Ryan Hamer asked to have Phillips evaluated for fitness; that is, whether Phillips has the faculties to assist his counsel at trial.

While mental health records are placed under court seal, the fact that he’s been placed back on the trial call indicates fitness was found not to be an issue.

Phillips faces up to 85 years if convicted of first-degree murder with a firearm.

A second suspect in Clements’ killing also is awaiting new trial dates.

Chastity Furar, 22, of Spring Valley, also listed in Ottawa will next appear June 21 for a status hearing. She too is charged with first-degree murder but is not alleged to have fired the fatal shot. Rather, she is alleged to have driven Phillips to and from the crime scene and to have supplied him with the weapon.

Furar would face an extended term up to 75 years if convicted.

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