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Crime & Courts

Jury finds Wonder Lake man guilty in 2017 murder, home invasion

Byron Howard, 37, Wonder Lake
Byron Howard, 37, Wonder Lake

A jury on Monday found a 37-year-old Wonder Lake man guilty of first-degree murder in connection with a 2017 home invasion and shooting.

After about four hours of deliberation, jurors returned at 4:06 p.m. with guilty verdicts on each charge filed against Byron Howard in connection with the death of 52-year-old Donald Jouravleff, who was shot and killed in 2017 at his McHenry home.

Jouravleff’s wife, Donna Mills, cried in the court gallery Monday as the judge read aloud the litany of guilty verdicts. In total, Howard was found guilty of first-degree murder, burglary, possession of a weapon by felon, being an armed habitual criminal, armed robbery and home invasion.

Jurors also signed forms indicating they believed Howard was armed when the crimes occurred, meaning he could receive an extra 15 years in prison in addition to the sentence Judge Sharon Prather is expected to issue May 24.

Howard’s attorney, Henry Sugden, said he’s disappointed in the verdict and plans to file a motion for a new trial. Sugden claimed early on during the trial that his client wasn’t present during the home invasion.

Howard was one of four men charged for their alleged involvement in a May 27, 2017, burglary at the home of Donald Jouravleff and Donna Mills.

Jouravleff died from complications from a gunshot wound after he was shot twice by masked intruders.

“[Jouravleff] was something to a lot of people, but he was nothing to the defendant,” Assistant State’s Attorney Randi Freese said. “He was an obstacle, a literal stepping stone in the way of a couple hundred bucks.”

Also charged in the home invasion and murder were Charles Campo, Jared Fox and Adam Morris. Fox and Campo each testified at Howard’s trial as part a plea deal with the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office. Neither man saw Howard with a gun, they said.

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,” and told her a man “went to sleep.”

A jury found Morris guilty of murder, armed robbery and burglary at a trial in March. He’s scheduled for sentencing May 10.

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