Rockford, Illinois News

Murder charges dropped in 2018 double homicide

ROCKFORD — First-degree murder charges against a man accused of gunning down two people in Rockford back in 2018 have been dismissed, Winnebago County State’s Attorney J. Hanley announced Tuesday.

Quincy Wright, 26, was charged in a 40-count indictment that stemmed from the deaths of Shawnquez Edwards and Chiyara Nelson, who were fatally shot Nov. 25, 2018, near Eighth Street and Broadway. A third person was wounded.

Charges against Wright included first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, aggravated battery with a firearm, aggravated discharge of a firearm and unlawful possession of weapon by a felon.

Hanley said direct evidence in the case doesn’t support testimony of a witness who claimed Wright opened fire from a nearby sidewalk. Despite that testimony, Hanley said shell casings found more than a block from where the victims were hit indicate the shooting was a drive-by and that Wright was not the gunman.

“At this time, the available evidence does not support Wright’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” Hanley said.

Wright still faces six counts of unlawful use of a weapon by a felon in a separate 2018 case.

Although he didn’t mention specific cases, Hanley said Wright’s is one of the more serious ones he inherited from former State’s Attorney Marilynn Hite Ross that never should have been charged.

“I have a legal and ethical obligation to proceed only when I believe a case can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt at trial,” he said. “I do not take this responsibility lightly. I cannot fathom the sorrow the victims’ families must feel as a result of this tragedy. And I am aware that my decision does not help to heal the emotional wounds they have suffered. To the extent the victims’ families feel betrayed or misled by my office, I sincerely apologize and I will work to earn back their trust.”

Authorities are asking for the public’s help identifying a suspect in the deaths of Shawnquez Edwards and Chiyara Nelson. Anyone with information is urged to call the Rockford Police Department at 815-966-2900 or Rockford Area Crime Stoppers at 815-963-7867.