60 years for ‘calling shots’ in grisly death

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A judge has sentenced a man to 60 years in prison after hearing a video statement of the defendant giving a detailed description of how he helped dismember and dispose of the body of a woman found in Greene County in 2013.

Brandon Chittum, 36, formerly of Alton, was sentenced Friday by Associate Judge Neil Schroeder after prosecutors introduced a taped statement that was excluded from the trial in which Chittum was found guilty of first-degree murder, dismembering a human body, and concealing a homicidal death.

Chittum was found guilty under the accountability theory, which holds that he helped participate in the act and was accountable for the acts of co-defendant Patrick Chase, who admitted to carrying out the killing.

Assistant Madison County State’s Attorney Crystal Uhe argued that Chittum deserved the same 70-year sentence as Chase was given for the crime. She had argued during the trial that Chittum coached Chase in killing Coats, his then-girlfriend.

“But for Brandon Chittum, this case does not happen. There is no way he was less culpable than Patrick Chase. He was the one calling the shots,” Uhe said.

During the trial, witnesses said Chittum was a member of the Outlaws motorcycle club, which had authority over The Black Pistons, a club in which Chase was a member.

Chittum made no statement on his own behalf. Uhe argued that while Chase confessed and pleaded guilty, Chittum has never accepted responsibility.

Family members said they were torn apart by the November 2013 loss of Coats, who was missing for several weeks before her body parts were found in trash bags in the Illinois River in Greene County.

“She was always full of life; she never knew a stranger,” said her uncle, Richard Beach. “What you did was evil, cold and heartless, She was not piece of trash to be thrown off a bridge.”

Coats’ aunt, Jody Lessman, said Chittum played the system, delaying the trial for five years.

“Every day I think about how evil, cold and heartless the crime was that Courtney endured and what these two men did to her,” Lessman said. “Not only did Brandon Chittum aid in taking her from us, he put myself and our family through complete hell while he played the system for five and a half years before going to trial.”

“What started out as a missing persons investigation has finally come to a conclusion with both murderers being brought to justice,” Uhe said. “We hope this finally gives Courtney’s family some peace.”

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Sanford Schmidt
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myjournalcourier.com




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