Crime & Courts

Attorneys to give closing arguments in McHenry murder, home invasion trial

Attorneys will give closing arguments Monday in the trial of a man who police said pushed his way into a McHenry house where a 52-year-old resident was shot and killed during a 2017 home invasion.

Byron Howard, 37, of Wonder Lake would face a minimum of 56 years in prison if jurors were to convict him of all charges. His attorney, Henry Sugden, asked the judge to make a direct finding of not guilty after prosecutors called their last witness Thursday.

McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather denied the request. Jurors are expected to begin deliberating Monday.

Prosecutors have charged three other men – Charles Campo, Jared Fox and Adam Morris – for their alleged involvement in the May 27, 2017, burglary at the home of Donald Jouravleff and Donna Mills. Jouravleff was shot twice when two masked men rushed his front door in the early hours of May 27, 2017, prosecutors said. Jouravleff, a U.S. Air Force veteran, died from complications from a gunshot wound.  

Fox and Campo each testified at Howard’s trial as part a plea deal with the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office.

After the home invasion, Campo and Howard burned their clothes and shoes in a bonfire at Howard’s home, Campo said.

Fox was the person who knocked on the door of the Davis Avenue home, but when Jouravleff answered, Howard and Morris pushed their way inside just before two gunshots were fired, Fox and Campo testified. Neither man saw Howard with a gun that morning, they said.

Morris, formerly a laborer for Mills’ moving company, was convicted of murder at a jury trial in March.

Sugden has said Howard wasn’t a part of the home invasion and wasn’t present when it happened.

However, Howard’s girlfriend, Jennifer Meyer, told police she spoke with Howard about the shooting after it happened. In a video-recorded police interview shown in court Wednesday, Meyer told officers that Howard was worried the other men would “probably run their mouths about what happened.”

“I asked, ‘Is it really that bad?’ and he said, ‘Yeah, a guy went to sleep,’ ” Meyer said in the recording.

Confronted with the video in court Wednesday, Meyer said she didn’t remember being interviewed.

“I was highly medicated and hungover during that interview,” she said in court.

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