CHESTER — The man accused of murder in connection with the death of a Chester Police officer pleaded not guilty Monday to the charges against him.
Jason Stoker, 34, appeared in a Chester courtroom Monday, where he pleaded not guilty to two counts of aggravated fleeing and eluding, and one count each of reckless homicide and first-degree murder.
Stoker, of Chester, was arrested for allegedly leading officer James Brockmeyer on a high-speed chase Oct. 28 outside of Chester on Palestine Road, which allegedly resulted in Brockmeyer crashing his car; he died in the crash.
In an attempt to provide proof of probable cause, Randolph County State’s Attorney Jeremy Walker called as a witness Special Agent Farrin Melton of the Illinois State Police.
During his testimony, Melton said based on his investigation, he believes Brockmeyer tried to pull Stoker over after reports that Stoker was crossing into Illinois from Missouri. Police have said Stoker was wanted for using an invalid driver's license and for his alleged connection to trafficking methamphetamine. After being signaled to pull over, Stoker allegedly led Brockmeyer on the high-speed chase that ended with the crash that killed Brockmeyer.
Melton said a preliminary traffic reconstruction report revealed that Brockmeyer was traveling at a speed of 114 mph when he crashed. Melton said a preliminary cause of Brockmeyer’s death was blunt force trauma.
During his cross-examination, Randolph County public defender James Kelley asked about the timeline of Deputy Noah Wunderlich’s involvement in the chase. Melton said after hearing chatter on the radio about the pursuit of Stoker, Wunderlich came to assist. Traveling in the opposite direction of Stoker and Brockmeyer, Melton explained that Wunderlich had stopped his car and was partially over the median line in the oncoming lane of traffic hoping to stop Stoker.
When Stoker evaded him, Wunderlich pulled into a field access road to turn his vehicle around and begin pursuit of Stoker. While backing up his vehicle, Melton said Wunderlich saw Brockmeyer’s lights and allowed him to pass before re-entering the road, where he saw Brockmeyer had crashed. Kelley asked if it was possible Wunderlich was the cause of Brockmeyer’s car crash, not the high-speed chase alone. Melton said he was not able to verify if this was the cause of the accident.
Judge Richard Brown found probable cause and asked for a formal reading of the charges, which Kelley declined for his client and entered the plea of not guilty on all charges.
Judge Brown scheduled a case management hearing for 10 a.m. Jan. 5 in Chester, with jury selection to begin in February.