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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Man found guilty in murder of federal informant

Ar Vice Lords street gang member faces up to life in prison after he was convicted Tuesday of killing a federal informant in 2006.
A jury deliberated at the Leighton Criminal Court Building for about three hours before finding Spencer Martin, 35, guilty of first-degree murder for fatally shooting Earl Willis and leaving him for dead in a van on Chicago's South Side.
Willis, 26, was last seen alive in February 2006 with Martin at a North Side gas station, where Martin had allegedly shot a man in the foot during an attempted robbery, prosecutors said. Jurors in Martin’s week-long trial saw surveillance footage from the station showing Martin and Willis getting into the van together.
Willis' badly decomposed body was discovered more than three months later in the van parked in the 7200 block of South Indiana Avenue. He had been shot twice in the head and once in the back and covered with a jacket.

Local and federal authorities almost immediately zeroed on Martin as a suspect, but he was not charged until 2009 after he’d been arrested in an unrelated case. DNA taken from a brandy bottle found inside the jacket pocket in Willis’ van was matched to Martin, and forensic investigators were able to link bullets from the scene to a gun previously used by Martin.
At the time of his death, Willis was an informant for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Prosecutors told jurors at trial that they had no way of knowing for sure if Martin knew Willis was cooperating with the government, but urged them to consider it as a possible motive.
Martin’s criminal history dates to at least 1998 and includes convictions for narcotics trafficking and attempted murder

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