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Crime & Courts

Accused burglars testify during murder trial of man involved in 2017 home invasion

Three witnesses provided somewhat conflicting testimonies this week regarding a 2017 home invasion that resulted in a McHenry-area man’s death.

Adam Morris, accused of the slaying, quietly sat Wednesday morning as a woman recounted the day two armed men entered her home, shot her husband and demanded cash from her home office. By Thursday evening, jurors heard from two additional men charged in connection with the May 27, 2017, shooting death of 52-year-old Donald Jouravleff.

Charles Campo, 33, and Jared Fox, 27, each told jurors that their plans the day of the shooting included a burglary at the home where Morris’ boss’ supervisor lived. The shakedown wasn’t supposed to be violent, but Morris, the alleged shooter, rushed the door and fired two shots at Jouravleff, who later died of complications from a gunshot wound, the men said.

Morris, 46, is charged with first-degree murder, home invasion, armed robbery, burglary and possession of a firearm by a felon.

The second day of testimony in Morris’ trial began with statements from Jouravleff’s wife, Donna Mills, who intermittently cried as she told jurors how a man held a gun to her head and another “jumpy” man wearing a plastic mask ordered her into the basement.

Descriptions of the men inside Mills’ home varied. Although Mills claimed to have seen a black man wearing a green bandana and a white man wearing a plastic mask, Campo testified Thursday that Morris was wearing a bandana and another man, Byron Howard, was wearing a hat with two holes cut out for his eyes.

Mills and her husband awoke early May 27, 2017, to what sounded like tapping at the door of their Davis Avenue home in unincorporated McHenry. Mills stayed upstairs in the master bedroom while her husband ran to the door. To catch a glimpse of who might be outside, Mills pulled aside her curtains and spotted a man crouching in the bushes. She tapped on the window to get the man’s attention. A dog’s bark, two gunshots and footsteps running up the stairs toward her bedroom were all she heard before a man whom she did not know put a gun to her head, she testified.

“I thought I was going to get shot and killed,” Mills said.

On Wednesday, jurors heard for the first time what happened on the other side of the door.

Fox and Campo each took the witness stand earlier this week, testifying in the orange uniforms issued to them by the McHenry County Jail.

Both men have accepted plea deals in exchange for their testimony. Rather than facing life in prison on first-degree murder charges, Fox and Campo will plead guilty to aggravated battery with a firearm. Fox would face between six and eight years in prison, while Campo could be sentenced to between seven and 10 years, prosecutors said.

“Even though I did try to stay away from the situation after the fact, I still feel deep down that it should have just been a burglary,” Campo said. “I feel like I got dragged into more than what I asked for.”

Howard, 37, also was charged in connection with the home invasion and shooting. He has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled for trial in April.

The situation began May 26, 2017, when Mills – the previous owner of A. Best Movers Inc. – met with a group of drivers and laborers in her home office, she said.

Morris and four other workers were at the meeting in Mills’ basement, where she received about $3,000 from a driver for completed jobs, she said.

Later that evening, all four men were drinking and listening to music in the driveway of Fox’s Wonder Lake home, when Morris pitched the idea of burglarizing Mills’ house, Campo said. Morris told the others he was working as a laborer for Mills’ moving company but hadn’t been paid for the previous weeks’ jobs, Fox testified.

Eventually, Fox agreed to drive Morris, Howard and Campo to Mills’ house. At Morris’ request, he also knocked on the couple’s door, Fox said.

As soon as he knocked, however, Howard and Morris pushed past him and into the home, Fox testified. He heard two gunshots and took off on foot toward his truck, which was parked a few blocks away.

“No one told me anyone was ever going to get hurt or anything like that,” Fox said in court Wednesday.

He knew, however, that Morris intended on leaving Mills’ home with more than just a paycheck. Before the four men left Fox’s house about 1 a.m., Morris told the group he could get more money, Fox testified. He also knew that Morris, a convicted felon, “always carried a gun on him,” he said.

When Morris and Howard left the home, Fox drove the group back to his house where they went their separate ways, he said.

Campo accepted a $300 cut of the stolen cash and stayed the night at Howard’s home, he said. Both men burned their clothing in a fire pit that night, Campo testified.

Fox denied accepting any money from Morris.

“I didn’t agree with any of that,” Fox said. “I didn’t want it.”

Although Campo’s testimony corroborated some of Fox’s recollections, their testimonies contained a few conflicting details. Most notably, Fox testified Wednesday that he’d known Campo for a total of four to five years. When Campo took the stand Thursday, however, he claimed to have known Fox for only about eight months.

Campo also was unable to identify Morris in a photo lineup, despite having already identified Fox and Howard.

Defense attorney Matthew Haiduk has argued that Fox and Campo’s relationship is an important detail. Haiduk described the pair as “really good friends” who conspired to pin the shooting on Morris.

In a video shown to jurors Thursday morning, Fox cried as he identified Campo in a photo lineup.

“I don’t know if I can do this,” he said on camera.

After selecting Campo as a suspect, the police department’s computer lineup program prompted Fox to write a comment about his selection.

“I’m sorry buddy I love you,” he wrote.

Fox deleted the words “I love you” and submitted the suspect ID.

The trial will pick back up Monday morning in McHenry County court.

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