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Article updated: 11/30/2011 4:24 PM

Round Lake Park man denies murder charge

Willie Davis

Willie Davis

 
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A Round Lake Park man who officials say committed murder when he heaved a brick into a car carrying rival gang members pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Lake County circuit court.

Willie Davis Jr., 20, was originally charged with involuntary manslaughter in the July 17 death of Rogelio Lopez, 18, of Round Lake, but the charges were upgraded to first-degree murder as the investigation continued.

Police said Davis was outside his residence in the 400 block of Highmoor Drive when he saw a fellow gang member being chased by rivals in an SUV.

Davis threw a landscaping brick through the vehicle's windshield, police said, causing the SUV to go out of control at more than 55 mph and strike a tree.

Lopez, a front seat passenger, died at the scene and five other occupants of the vehicle were hospitalized.

The crash was investigated by the Lake County Major Crash Assistance Team, and police have said additional charges against others involved are still possible.

Circuit Judge Daniel Shanes told Davis he faces a mandatory prison sentence of 20 to 60 years if convicted in the case.

Shanes ordered Davis, who is held on $1 million bail, to appear in court Dec. 7.

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