It has been over 2½ years since Clifford Brewer was charged with the murder of three people on Christmas morning 2019 in Cullom. On Monday, according to Judici, Brewer’s trial will begin.
Brewer, now 55, was charged Dec. 27, 2019, with six counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Shirley A. Brewer, 48, and Christian A. Brewer, 27, and Norman T. Walker, 51 years old. Through his attorney, Clifford Brewer pleaded not guilty to the charges on January 23, 2020, and the case was put on the April jury schedule.
Also at that January 23 hearing, a change of attorney for Brewer was made as his public defender — Scott Ripley — handed the case over to Joshua Richards, who represented Chicago law firm Stephen L. Richards.
“I took over the instant the judge allowed me to take over,” Richards said after the January 23, 2020 hearing. He said he couldn’t get in when he was contacted to take the case.
COVID hit the area in March and with a new attorney the case has slowed despite a number of preliminary hearings and two motions scheduled between January 23, 2020 and a preliminary hearing scheduled for today – Thursday August 4.
The case is being heard by Judge Jennifer Bauknecht. The trial is scheduled for two weeks from August 8.
Bond was set at $5 million when Brewer was arrested.
At the Dec. 27 preliminary hearing, Yedinak told the court that Livingston County Sheriff’s Police responded to a call at 2:05 a.m. Christmas morning (Dec. 25) about three gunshot victims at 416 E. Jackson St. in Cullom. Brewer was taken out of the house and detained at that time. Police also discovered that Brewer’s hands were wet and there were still clothes in the washing machine.
Yedinak also said at the time that Brewer said he went Christmas shopping on Dec. 24 for his wife, and when he got home the two got into a fight. According to Yedinak, Shirley Brewer then texted Walker, who lived across Jackson Street (which is also Route 116 via Cullom, who then came to Brewer’s home.
Yedinak told the court Walker and Ms Brewer went upstairs and started drinking heavily and listening to loud music. He pointed out that Brewer said he stayed downstairs and listened to music on his phone. Brewer also said he took sleeping pills.
Yedinak also said Brewer told authorities that no one entered or left the residence during this time.
Yedinak also told the court that Clifford Brewer made conflicting statements, including that he did not own a gun and that he did.
Speaking with the media after the hearing, Yedinak said, “At first he told the 9-1-1 dispatcher that he thought he remembered seeing the gun, that a neighbor was trying to sell it. Then, throughout the interview, he indicated that he had never owned a gun, and then finally admitted to buying the gun for his wife.”
Yedinak also told the court that the autopsy indicated the gunshot wounds were not self-inflicted.
Yedinak told media afterwards, “the shot was not self-inflicted, which he admitted to law enforcement at the time no one entered or left the house. during the period that the individuals appear to have been murdered. And other factors that have been presented, the statement of probable cause, I think, would indicate what evidence we have.”
Yedinak said Brewer had a valid FOID card at the time of the shooting and could not tell when the gun was purchased.
Scott Ripley, who was the public defender representing Brewer at the time of the hearing, said Brewer suffered from depression and anxiety and was on medication.
Yedinak said after the January 23 hearing that he was very committed to the case and was complementary to the police units involved.
“The Illinois State Police and the Livingston County Sheriff’s Department have done a terrific job investigating this case,” Yedinak said at a press conference after the hearing. “We are confident in the charges and we are confident in our case.”
“We don’t handle too many homicides in Livingston County, so that’s something we make sure to cross our ‘T’s and dot our ‘I’s.”
The culmination of the interviews and checking that everything has been properly prepared is coming to fruition now, as the trial is due to start at 8:30 a.m. Monday morning.