East St. Louis Man Sentenced to Life Plus 900 Months in Prison
An East St. Louis man was sentenced to a term of life in federal prison, to be followed by additional, consecutive terms in prison totaling 900 months (terms of 240 months, 120 months, 240 months and 300 months, all consecutive to each other and to the term of life in prison) on July 15, 2015, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Stephen R. Wigginton, announced today. Timothy Collier, 48, will serve the rest of his natural life in federal prison, with no possibility of parole, for robbing the East St. Louis Jewelry and Loan and shooting the owner on April 25, 2013, and for robbing a Belleville liquor store on July 12, 2013. The case was prosecuted as part of the United States Attorney Wigginton’s anti-armed robbery initiative.
"The horrific nature of this crime and its lasting aftermath shows that Collier deserves every day of this sentence. Such wanton and repeated violence can only be met with sentences which permanently remove the offenders from our community. Only in this manner can the public feel safe. I sincerely hope that my message that if you engage in these acts, you will be caught and you will be sent to a federal prison, maybe forever, is having some deterrent effect. For those who choose to ignore my message, I simply note that you do so at your own peril." said United States Attorney Wigginton.
At sentencing, Chief United States District Court Judge Michael J. Reagan noted that Collier had "a dark heart and no conscience" in committing these crimes.
Evidence presented at trial established that on April 25, 2013, Collier entered the East St. Louis Jewelry and Loan armed with a silver revolver and pointed it at the owner of the business. Collier opened fire when the owner of the business resisted. Collier shot the owner in the hand, shoulder and chest. The shot to the chest damaged the victim’s spinal cord causing him to fall onto the counter. As the victim lay motionless and powerless across the counter, Collier climbed on top of him and pressed his revolver to the back of the owner’s head directly behind his ear and fired a point-blank final shot.
As a result of the shooting, the store owner is paralyzed from the chest down and wheelchair-bound for life. Collier stole hundreds of women’s rings and other items of jewelry, as well as cash and a .357 revolver. Although Collier was not immediately apprehended, the entire robbery and shooting was recorded on the store’s video surveillance which captured Collier’s face during the robbery and as he fled the store.
Three months later, on July 12, 2013, Collier conspired with his niece, Charmonequette Reynolds, and another associate, Roderick Taylor, to rob Arena Liquor in Belleville, Illinois. Reynolds, acting as the getaway driver, drove Collier and Taylor in her gold Grand Am to an area near Arena Liquor where the two men entered Arena Liquors armed with a silver revolver and a black and silver .40 caliber handgun. Collier and Taylor entered the store and immediately pointed the firearms at the two individuals working in the store and demanded all of the money from the cash registers. Collier and Taylor left the liquor store with a large sum of United States currency and a cell phone belonging to one of the victims, returned to the getaway vehicle, and the three fled from the scene.
A witness driving near Arena Liquor noticed Collier and Taylor running from the liquor store and followed them as they ran several blocks to the getaway vehicle. The witness recorded the license plates of Reynolds’ gold Grand Am and gave the number to Belleville Police officers. Reynolds was identified and apprehended within hours of the robbery. During a recorded interview, Reynolds admitted her involvement in the planning and participation in the armed robbery of Arena Liquor and identified Collier and Roderick Taylor as the two gunmen. Roderick Taylor was arrested later that same day and also admitted during a recorded interview to his participation in the armed robbery of Arena Liquor and identified Collier as the second gunman.
The silver revolver and the black and silver .40 caliber handgun used to commit the robberies were recovered by law enforcement after Collier’s girlfriend admitted that she gave the two guns to two of Collier’s childhood friends to hide after Collier’s arrest. The silver revolver Collier used in the robbery and shooting of the owner of the East St. Louis pawn shop was turned over to law enforcement officers by Collier’s best friend who admitted during trial that he had been hiding the gun for Collier. Forensic analysis of the silver revolver performed by the Illinois State Police Forensic Crime Laboratory revealed a ballistic match to a bullet recovered from the crime scene of the East St. Louis pawn shop shooting. Analysis of the barrel of the silver revolver also revealed a DNA match to the victim of the shooting, unquestionably linking the firearm to the robbery of the East St. Louis Jewelry and Loan.
Collier was found guilty on all counts in November 2014, following a six-day jury trial.
In addition to being sentenced to life in prison plus 900 months, Collier was ordered to pay restitution, which will be assessed within ninety days, and a $500 special assessment.
United States Attorney Wigginton’s Anti-Armed Robbery Initiative seeks to identify commercial armed robberies that can be prosecuted in federal court, under the Hobbs Act, to serve as an additional deterrent. United States Attorney Wigginton noted, "My anti-armed robbery initiative was designed for career criminals like Collier. My Office and our partners in Law Enforcement are committed to bringing the full force of the federal government down on those who commit violent crimes."
The investigation was conducted by the Illinois State Police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Belleville Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and the East St. Louis Police Department. The case was tried by Assistant United States Attorneys Ali Summers and Steve Weinhoeft.