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Murder suspect’s bond lowered after grand jury upgrades charge

A first-degree murder suspect has been released on bond from the Cole County Jail, which is a first for Prosecuting Attorney Mark Richardson.

Alfred Chism Jr. was arrested after shooting Charon Session, 23, outside Chism’s home at about 3 a.m. Aug. 27. According to court documents, Chism admitted to opening the door while holding a pistol and shooting Session. Chism told police Session had been verbally harassing him for several days,

Chism and Session were both Lincoln University students. Chism was last enrolled in spring 2018 and did not sign up for fall courses, Lincoln spokeswoman Misty Young said.

Richardson charged Chism with second-degree murder shortly after his arrest. The charge was upgraded in September when a grand jury indicted Chism on a first-degree murder charge.

The key difference between the two, former Cole County Prosecutor Bill Tackett said, is that first-degree implies the murder was premeditated. Tackett said second-degree murder defendants are released on bond on more frequently than those facing first-degree murder charges.

“There are second-degree murder suspects that are out of jail,” Tackett said. “That’s not uncommon.”

According to online court records, Circuit Court Judge Patricia Joyce lowered Chism’s bond from $100,000 cash to $25,000 cash or surety Sept. 24 after a hearing, during which Richardson’s office opposed the change.

Chism posted bond and was released on Sept. 28, according to the Cole County Jail.

Tackett said bonds are set by judges according to the risk the defendant poses to the public, and their “flight risk,” or chance of leaving the area.

It is possible that Chism’s charge could change again at the start of 2019.

Richardson is set to leave office at the end of the year after losing the Republican nomination in the April primary election to first-time candidate Locke Thompson.

Thompson or Deidre Hirner, the Democratic nominee, will replace Richardson in November. The winner will be able to review all of Richardson’s previous cases and change any charge as they see fit.

“Should it be a first-degree murder case? That’s something for the next prosecutor, whoever he or she is, will have to make that decision,” Tackett said.

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