Man sentenced to 20 years in 2018 fatal East Moline shooting

Willie Minor in court March 6, 2018.
Willie Minor in court March 6, 2018.(KWQC)
Published: Feb. 9, 2021 at 4:37 PM CST
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ROCK ISLAND Co., Ill. (KWQC) - A man was sentenced to 20 years in prison Tuesday for fatally shooting 52-year-old Jon Keener in 2018 in East Moline.

“It happened so fast and unexpectedly,” Willie Minor, 32, said during an hourlong sentencing in Rock Island County Circuit Court. “And, I’m very sorry.”

He added, “I’m not a menace to society, I’m not a monster.”

Minor who initially faced a first-degree murder, pleaded guilty in October to second-degree murder, a Class 1 felony.

Around 11:20 a.m. On Feb. 6, 2018, East Moline police received multiple 911 calls reporting a shooting near Third Street and 15th Avenue.

According to police, officers found Keener, of Muscatine, lying on the south side of the roadway edge with a gunshot wound to the head.

He was transported to Genesis Medical Center, Silvis, where he was pronounced dead.

During the plea hearing in October, prosecutors said Keener was involved in a crash with a vehicle that Minor was a passenger in before the shooting.

Keener followed the vehicle to the 300 block of 15th Avenue, where it finally came to a stop because of damages sustained in the crash.

Keener got out of his vehicle and approached the other vehicle. Minor said the driver of the vehicle handed him a gun as it stopped. He said he heard a gunshot and then fired the gun that he had been given in return, striking Keener in the head, prosecutors said.

Keener was unarmed but had a phone in his hand, according to prosecutors.

Witnesses told officers that a person fled after the shooting and went into a home south of 15th Avenue at Kennedy Drive.

The Crisis Containment Unit responded and negotiated with people inside the home to exit.

The situation came to a peaceful resolution at 4:08 p.m., according to police. Several people in the home were detained, including Minor, while the investigation continued.

Assistant State’s Attorney Heidi Weller asked Judge Frank Fuhr to sentence Minor to the maximum 20-year sentence.

She argued Minor’s standoff with police for several hours and his “antics” while in custody at the jail “really evidence his true attitude, despite what he says here today.”

“He is an individual who utterly mocks authority,” she said. “He is either unable or more likely unwilling, to comport his behavior to any standard of decency, including sexually harassing female correctional staff.”

She also pointed to his criminal history, including convictions for battery, burglary, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, and aggravated criminal sexual assault.

Keener’s niece, Bobbie Jo Keener, read a letter written by her grandfather and Keener’s father, Jack, during Tuesday’s hearing.

Reading from the letter, she said, “We feel sorry for Willie Minor’s family” and that they will pray for him and his family.”

“May the Lord be with all of us,” she read. “Jon would want it that way.”

His attorney, Hany Khoury, said Minor acted under strong provocation that day.

“The reason we are here today on a second-degree murder is because Mr. Minor believed unreasonably that his conduct was necessary to protect himself,” he said.

He added, “Mr. Minor is not just a gentleman whose pled guilty to murder in the second-degree. He’s a family member, he’s a loved one, he’s a roommate, he’s a worker. He deserves an opportunity to make right what went wrong.”

A family friend and a cousin of Minor’s also spoke to the judge and said Minor was a man with a big heart who loved his family.

Fuhr agreed with Weller that the maximum sentence should be imposed, based on Minor’s prior criminal record and on “the facts wherein a person was shot down in the street, possessing a cell phone.

“There’s no justification,” he said.

Minor will receive day-for-day credit, as well as credit for time already served in the jail.

Once he completes his sentence, he will serve two years of mandatory supervised release.

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