A man who had claimed that he was "merely present" for a Wheaton drug dealer's murder 12 years ago pleaded guilty Wednesday to attempted armed robbery as part of a deal with prosecutors that requires him to cooperate with unspecified investigations in DuPage and Cook counties.
Raymond Winters, 44, formerly of Chicago, was facing first-degree murder charges in connection with the July 1999 execution-style shooting of 32-year-old Aldis Tucker in Wheaton.
Prosecutors agreed to drop the murder charges in exchange for the armed robbery plea, for which Winters was sentenced to 25 years in prison by DuPage County Judge George Bakalis.
Assistant State's Attorney Joseph Ruggiero said after Wednesday's hearing that Winters has agreed to help authorities with investigations in Cook and DuPage counties. Ruggiero declined to elaborate.
"There's obviously investigations going on, and he's assisting," Ruggiero said. "There's some information we can't give at this time."
State's Attorney Robert Berlin said in a statement that Winters' past has "finally caught up with him."
"Justice has been served," Berlin said. "Mr. Winters will now pay the price for his role in the death of Aldis Tucker."
The plea deal was finalized less than a week before Winters' retrial on the murder charges was set to begin. Jurors at Winters' first trial in December couldn't reach a verdict.
Going in to the second trial, prosecutors had Bakalis' permission to present evidence tying Winters to the June 1999 kidnapping and slaying of Darryl Green of Broadview -- even though Winters had never been charged in that slaying.
In March, Bakalis ruled that the evidence could be used for the "limited purpose" of refuting Winters' claim that he was present for Tucker's murder -- but had no idea the victim would be killed.
At the time, prosecutors said similarities in both killings -- and evidence directly linking Winters to them -- show he had participated in murders before and knew what was in store for Tucker the night he died.
Green was abducted from his Broadview beeper store and held for ransom, then taken to a wooded area and fatally shot, authorities said. Tucker was slain a month later outside his townhouse as he returned from a police interview after authorities searched the home while investigating a drug trafficking operation.
During Winters' first trial, prosecutors said Winters shot Tucker in the left eye on the night of July 28, 1999 after traveling to Tucker's townhouse with two other men who had plans to rob the victim of money or drugs.
A neighbor later testified that she saw a struggle in the driveway, and then a man chasing Tucker toward the front of his home. Tucker was shot twice in the arm and back before he collapsed and was shot in the face at close range.
Tucker's death went unsolved for nearly a decade, until a jailhouse informant told authorities that he heard Winters talk of his role in the crime. Winters was indicted on murder charges on April 28, 2009 -- the same day he was scheduled to be paroled in an unrelated vehicular hijacking case.