EDWARDSVILLE — Family and friends of murder victim Courtney Coats breathed a little easier Tuesday after a judge denied a bond reduction for one of the suspects.
Circuit Judge James Hackett refused a defense motion to reduce the bond of Brandon L. Chittum from $1 million to $500,000 after a prosecutor pointed out the suspect is accused of a brutal murder, and he may be a member of the Outlaws biker gang.
Chittum, 31, of Collinsville is one of two men accused of two counts of first-degree murder, one count of dismembering a human body and concealment of a homicidal death.
Also charged is Patrick A. Chase of the 2500 block of College Avenue, Alton, who was living with Coats, 30, when she disappeared.
The two men were charged Dec. 20 after Coats’ body was found along the Illinois River shoreline near the Joe Page Bridge in Greene County. She had been missing since Nov. 23.
Several relatives and friends of Coats attended the hearing Tuesday on a defense motion to reduce Chittum’s bond.
“They were there for Courtney,” Assistant State’s Attorney Crystal Uhe said in a brief interview after the hearing.
Chittum’s attorney Tyler Bateman argued that Chittum is an Army veteran and served two tours of duty in Iraq. He had a pending felony charge when he was charged with first-degree murder, but it was for filing a false fire alarm, a class 4 felony, the least serious felony charge, Bateman argued.
Uhe argued the murder charge is the worst offense with which a defendant can be charged.
“It doesn’t get any worse than that,” she told the judge.
The charges claim the suspects strangled and slit the victim’s throat. Police have said they believe Coats was killed on the same day she went missing. Authorities claim the two concealed the body in the trunk of a vehicle and used that vehicle to take the body to the area near the bridge.
Sanford J. Schmidt can be reached at 618-208-6449 or Twitter @SanfordSan.