Local Police Reports, Park Forest

Chicago Heights Man Charged with Witness Intimidation in Murder Case

Park Forest, IL—(ENEWSPF) — Park Forest police charged Deon R. Smith, 23, 1137 Union, Chicago Heights, IL, with felony charges of intimidating and communicating with witnesses in connection with the murder case of James T. Bray. Smith was arrested on April 4 and charged April 5.

On Friday, March 30, Smith allegedly visited the Park Forest residence of witnesses in the murder of James Bray. Smith was taken into custody on April 4 from his home in Chicago Heights. According to the report, he allegedly told the witnesses he was aware that the had talked to police about the murder, and that is the reason why “Fifty” is still in jail. “Fifty” is the nickname of Andrew Austin, charged with the murder of James Bray. Smith warned the witnesses that they need to tell police they did not see Austin the day of the murder, and, if they didn’t, Smith would come back and, “Take care of the both of them,” according to the report.

Smith at first denied going to the house, but later admitted doing so. According to the report, Smith said he went to the house to talk to the owner about “Boo.” “Boo” is the nickname of James Bray. Smith allegedly told the witness that he needs to keep his mouth shut and tell the police that he didn’t see Austin the night of the murder, because if he didn’t, Smith would, “Kick his ass.”

On Wednesday, January 24th, 2007 at 2:26 a.m., Park Forest Police Officers responded to a call of a man shot at 51A Hemlock. According to his girlfriend who was in the residence at the time of the incident, James Bray had been shot when he responded to knocks at his front door.

Park Forest Fire Department EMS responded and transported Bray to St. James Hospital in Olympia Fields for emergency treatment. Park Forest Police Detectives responded and called the Illinois State Police Evidence Unit to process the crime scene. The PFPD Investigations Commander activated the South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force at 3:30 a.m. The SSMCTF is a combined unit of local, county and state Detectives who assist member agencies by providing manpower and technical support in major crimes.

The Park Forest Police Department, Special Tactical and Neighborhood Deployment Unit of Policing (STAND UP) had recently served a narcotics search warrant on Bray and his residence. As a result of that search, Bray was charged with Possession of Cannabis, Possession of a firearm without an Illinois, Firearm Owners Identification Card and Felony Possession of a Firearm with a Defaced serial number after drugs and weapons were found in his home.

On Thursday, January 25th, 2007, the Park Forest Police Department was notified by the Cook County Medical Examiners Office that Bray, 27 years old, was pronounced dead. On Sunday, January 28th, 2007 the Cook County State’s Attorney charged 20 year old Andrew Austin of 50 Sauk Trail, Park Forest with the murder.