At the Tactical Conference in North Little Rock this spring, some of the best legal minds warned us that in today's world, prosecutors may take even a righteous defensive gun use to the jury.  Especially if one of their constituents lost his or her life in the commission of a violent felonious attack against a good guy with a gun.  Especially if the deceased did not also have a firearm.  "He was only armed with a knife/club/fill-in-the-blank weapon other than a gun."

It looks as though Knox County Illinois Assistant State's Attorney Brian Kerr is hell-bent on proving the TacCon instructors right. 

ASA Kerr refiled murder charges against a 59-year-old rural Knox County farmer James Love (pictured above) who shot Xavier Hartman, a 19-year-old who crashed his car on the farmer's property.  That was after a Grand Jury refused to indict the same man in the homicide.

The Galesburg Register-Mail has the story:

GALESBURG — In a rare move, the Knox County State’s Attorney’s office has again filed a first-degree murder charge against James Love in the June 19 shooting death of Xavier Hartman.

According to Knox County court files, prosecutors filed the same charges as they initially sought in a new case Wednesday, July 18. The charges are: first-degree murder with a mandatory firearm enhancement; Class X felony aggravated battery with a firearm; and felony aggravated discharge of a firearm.

The murder charge, if Love is convicted, carries a mandatory prison sentence of between 45 years to natural life in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

The new case was filed a day after Love, 59, Galva, pleaded not guilty and demanded a jury trial in the initial case, in which a Knox County grand jury returned a felony charge of involuntary manslaughter against Love.

The same story offered only the most superficial details behind the shooting.

Love is charged with shooting Hartman in his left thigh during an altercation June 19. That bullet struck Hartman’s femoral artery, which resulted in his death. The altercation between the two Galva men occurred after Hartman crashed a vehicle he was driving about 300 yards away from Love’s property.

Love responded to the scene after hearing the crash and subsequent yelling. Two shots were fired by Love while Hartman was unarmed.

Henry County Coroner Melissa Watkins said Monday morning that toxicology reports on Hartman are still pending. She reiterated that the cause of death was a single gunshot wound to Hartman’s left thigh, which struck the femoral artery. That is the leg’s main artery.

While authorities have said two shots were fired during the incident, Watkins said Monday that Hartman was struck once in the lower leg as well as the shot to his thigh that ultimately killed him.

The farmer has no criminal history and well-regarded in the community.

Mr. Hartman, aged 19, was arrested and charged with felony mob action in Henry County in 2017.  He pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor mob action and spent some time in county jail.  The deceased also had an emergency Order of Protection filed against him in Henry County on February 6, 2018.

Mr. Love is represented by the Johnson Law Group.  Guns Save Life is familiar with the firm as the namesake attorney, along with the managing partner and others have appeared at Guns Save Life meetings in the past.  The Johnson Law Group has some really great gun guys who happen to be good attorneys too.

While researching the case, WQAD has a much better description of the incident that led to Mr. Mob Action's death.  I've fisked it a little:

EARLIER: GALVA, Illinois —  A 19-year-old Galva teen was shot and killed by a rural Galva man after a one-car traffic accident and altercation that happened in the early morning hours of Tuesday, June 19.

Single car accident after midnight?  Running that through the universal translator:  Someone was drunk or high or both and crashed due to intoxication.

Details on what exactly transpired around 12:30 a.m. in the 2900 block of Knox Road 2000E remain sketchy,

I doubt they are that sketchy.  There's two version of what happened and one is no longer using oxygen.  The question for everyone else:  Does the physical evidence support Mr. Love's version of what happened?

but Knox County Sheriff’s deputies report that Xavier Hartman, 19, of Galva was shot in the leg by James E. Love, 58, outside of Love’s home after a vehicle Hartman was driving crashed about 300 yards from Love’s home.

According to a Knox County Sheriff’s Department media release, Love heard the crash and yelling

Yelling like, "Help, I'm hurt" or yelling like, "You effing idiot!  I can't believe you crashed your drunk ass in the ditch!"?

and left his home armed with a 9mm semiautomatic Ruger handgun to investigate.

Seems prudent.  I don't go to the bathroom without mine.  And I guarantee that if I investigate an automobile accident, I'll be armed and probably have made an initial call to 911 even as I approached.

The report says “a confrontation occurred between Hartman and Love” and Love fired two rounds from his gun, striking Hartman in the thigh. The report says a passenger in Hartman’s vehicle “fled the area on foot” as the confrontation began.

So, when Mr. Farmer shows up and asks if he can help, somehow it turns into a confrontation?  And the passenger fled the area on foot?  What was he hiding?  Drunk?  Drugs?  Criminal warrant for his arrest?  Someone didn't want to hang around and wait for police it seems.  "As the confrontation began"…  sounds like the gun wasn't the reason for him skidaddling out of there, huh?

Love was arrested and faces felony charges of unlawful discharge of a firearm and aggravated battery with a firearm. In a subsequent interview with the Peoria Journal-Star, Knox County Sheriff Dave Clague said Love could face second-degree murder charges and those charges could be filed ahead of Love’s scheduled video court hearing on Wednesday.  Clague also said it appears Hartman was unarmed when he was shot and that it is believed the two men did not know each other.

Prior to being arrested, Love was transported to an area hospital for treatment of a laceration he received during the confrontation, according to the release.

So the farmer got his butt kicked by the young, 19-year-old with a history of criminal violence before he shot the 19-year-old?  I'm assuming the farmer took his licks before shooting the young man because most smart peope don't initiate a physical attack without a weapon against a drawn gun *after* getting shot twice.  Heck, even dumb people might *want* to initiate a physical attack but after taking a couple of slugs, their bodies might not cooperate.  That's the very definition of stopping power!

Love is currently in the Knox County Jail pending a court appearance.

The Johnson Law Group people included me in a press release.


James Love Press Release (New Case)

Keep an eye on this case.  Who knows, we might ask for Guns Save Life members to attend this trial in a show of support for Mr. Love.  The Knox County State's Attorney's office needs to know that prosecuting law-abiding residents defending themselves on their own property will not stand.

And it might be time for a new State's Attorney as well.

15 thoughts on “WON’T TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER: Knox County IL Prosecutor Re-Files Murder Charges After Grand Jury Refusal to Indict”
  1. Very disheartening to see this ASA wasting resources on this case. 

    I don’t want to imagine how much it is costing this farmer to defend himself against this circus act. 

    I suggest replacing two words in the last sentence of the article. Substitute “might be” with “is”! 

    I wish this farmer good luck through this tough time. 

    We are a nation who’s house is divided, even more so than pre-civil war. 

    Stay safe and vigilant everyone. Semper Fi! 

  2. What's up with this?  The grand jury refused to charge this guy with murder, but this prosecutor thinks he knows better?  Is Galesburg kind of like the Austin of Texas in terms of liberal streak in a conservative place?  I didn't think Illinois had many of those outside of Chicago, the suburbs and maybe Champaign-Urbana.  

    So let me get this right:  You've got a farmer who's a birthday from seasoned citizen status, attacked by a 19-year-old punk who is no stranger to the criminal justice system.  Blood tests aren't back yet, but I'm seasoned myself and I'm putting my money on this kid was drunk or high.  Rational, decent people don't attack good samaritans.  Sounds like a turd got flushed and Mr. Love gave us the taxpayer relief shot.  Good work, Mr. Love.  Someone start him a fundraising page for his legal bills!

  3. First degree murder? That requres prior planning, not possible given the information.

    Maybe the SA really doesn't want a conviction, just publicity.

  4. GLS please make a letter on behalf of your members to this pos lawyer reminding him of the voters that he will have to face 

  5. The Right of Self-defense has been Granted to us by God from the time Noah stepped off the Ark. They are known as B’Nai Noach. These 7 "Laws" were meant to apply to “ALL” men.

    I expect the Prosecutor is going to claim that since James Love took a firearm with him it is a sign of premeditation. This is silly and ridiculous; the presence of a firearm does not define a premeditated event.

    The Laws of our state are out of touch with reality. The mere presence of a Firearm is not and should not be considered a crime, yet we have the stupid FOID card law to contend with as an infringement upon our Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

    A precursory understanding of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms once existed in this country and this State.

    Please read …

  6. John,

    Does GSL have members in Galesburg or Knox County that have more of the story they could share with you?

    There must be something missing from what has been reported or even arresting him seems strange. However if this is as blatant as it seems, then I and some friends would be willing to get involved with cash and other services that might be useful. I'm confident that others would be willing to step up as well.

    1. There's more that I cannot comment on publicly.

      You can read between the lines all you want.


  7. There is a Facebook support group set up for Mr. Love titled " James Love: Self Defense  " If you wish to join and show your support, it is an open group currently and of course there are opposing views on the matter. It does have information on how to support and who to contact to aide in Mr. Love's self defense fund.

    1. Some of us do not use Facebook so there is very little a non Facebook person can see.

      I am not a social media fan for many reasons, but I am interested in more information. Can you post some of it here?

    2. Facebook is NOT your friend, especially if you value freedom and firearms.  It's important to keep that in mind.

      I, too, would appreciate seeing helpful info posted here. 

  8. If I had to guess, I'd say the ASA is attempting to use this case to bolster his public image in a run to replace a likely retiring SA.

    I have a feeling it will not work out well for him.


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