MURPHYSBORO — One of the Kansas men involved in the shooting of a Carbondale police officer in July 2016 was indicted Thursday by a Jackson County grand jury, according to county prosecutor Michael Carr.
Alex B. Karcher, 24, of Salina, Kansas, was indicted on one count of aggravated battery and six counts of aggravated discharge of a firearm, all of which are Class X felonies.
The aggravated battery indictment alleges that Karcher, while acting with others, discharged a .223 caliber firearm, thereby causing injury to Carbondale Police officer Trey Harris, a person he knew to be a police officer performing his official duties.
The six counts of aggravated discharge of a firearm allege that Karcher fired six shots, which did not hit Harris, from a .223 caliber firearm in the direction of a vehicle he knew to be occupied by a peace officer while the officer was engaged in the execution of his duties.
The incident happened at about 11:30 p.m. July 31, 2016. According to the release, officers Trey Harris and Corey Brinkley were patrolling the 700 block of North Robert A. Stalls Avenue when they heard gunshots and observed a car speeding away from the area.
Carr said the vehicle reached speeds of 90 miles per hour, and one of the occupants fired several shots from a high-powered rifle at the police car, striking Harris in the eye.
After taking notice of the injured officer, the remaining officers ended the pursuit, but not before Harris was able to give a description of the car and partial license plate number.
The next morning, the suspect’s vehicle was found off Dewmaine School House Road, north of Carbondale. A passerby reported to police that it was on fire.
If found guilty, Karcher could face from 15 to 60 years in prison on the aggravated battery charge, and from 10 to 45 years on each charge of aggravated discharge of a firearm. Probation is not available for these charges.
Carr said Karcher is currently being held in the Jackson County Jail with bond set at $2.5 million, and will appear in court Friday.
Karcher was previously indicted with four others on a charge of conspiracy to possess with the intent to deliver more than 5,000 grams of a substance containing cannabis in Jackson and Williamson counties. His trial on the drug charges was scheduled to begin Monday, but was continued considering the additional charges.
Man involved in drug conspiracy that led to officer shooting convicted
Christian A. Reichert, of Marion, was found guilty on Monday, July 30, after a five-day trial of conspiracy to possess with intent to deliver more than 5,000 grams of cannabis and trafficking more than 5,000 grams of cannabis.
Carr said the jury deliberated for less than one hour before reaching the verdict.
Investigators learned the car from which shots were fired at Harris had been stolen two days before it was purchased by Reichert, who used a fake name and paid for the car in cash, according to a news release from Carr's office. The evidence showed that Reichert and others had been involved in a drug trafficking conspiracy. On the Wednesday prior to the shooting, 15 pounds — $49,000 worth — of cannabis was taken from those involved in the conspiracy.
On July 31, 2016, several members of the conspiracy came to Carbondale to retaliate against whoever had taken the cannabis without paying, and drove the car purchased by Reichert to shoot at them.
In addition to purchasing the car, Reichert rented a house for storage of the cannabis until it could be distributed, Carr said. The house at Lake of Egypt was searched and investigators found 42 pounds of cannabis wrapped in half-pound quantities in a safe.
Evidence showed that Reichert traveled with Brandon Jones — another defendant in the case — to Oregon a month before the shooting with more than $100,000 in cash hidden in the spare tire of a vehicle. After loading 100 pounds of cannabis into the tires of the same vehicle, the two men drove back to Southern Illinois for distribution, Carr said.
Conspiracy to possess more than 5,000 grams of cannabis with intent to distribute is a Class 1 felony, which carries a sentence of four to 15 years in prison. Trafficking more than 5,000 grams of cannabis from another state to Illinois is a Class X felony, which has a sentence of 12 to 60 years in prison.
Reichert is scheduled for a sentencing hearing at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26.
2 Carterville men plead guilty on drug charges in same case
The trial for Brandon Jones, 26, and Jared Jones, 27, both of Carterville, was scheduled to begin Monday, but Carr said they have each entered guilty pleas.
Brandon Jones on Monday pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with the intent to deliver more than 5,000 grams of a substance containing cannabis. The charge is a Class 1 felony. He also pleaded guilty to cannabis trafficking, a Class X felony.
In exchange for his agreement to cooperate, he received concurrent sentences of 15 and 18 years in prison.
Jared Jones pleaded guilty on Wednesday to conspiracy to possess with the intent to deliver more than 5,000 grams of a substance containing cannabis, a Class 1 felony. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison in exchange for his cooperation.