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It took nearly 30 years for Robert Bostic to be tried for the shooting death of a man at a motorcycle clubhouse in Lake County. It took a jury only three hours Thursday to find him guilty.

Bostic, now 71, sat stoically as his conviction was announced, mere weeks after it appeared the case might fall apart after prosecutors said several witnesses changed their stories. In the end, none of the fellow Wheelmen club members who took the stand — all present when Carlton Richmond was killed in Round Lake Beach in 1982 — implicated Bostic during the four-day trial. But that apparently didn't convince jurors that the gunman wasn't Bostic or that the shooting was an accident, as his attorneys suggested.

"We are really glad he was found guilty because it has been 29 years," Richmond's widow, Victoria Hargis, said after the verdict. "But I wish (Bostic's family) didn't have to go through it." Bostic's son slammed his head against a wall in the courtroom and other relatives cried audibly when the guilty verdict was announced.

During the trial, prosecutors asserted that Bostic shot Richmond, a 31-year-old father and pizza parlor manager, after Richmond lost a bet for $500 that Bostic couldn't down a fifth of whiskey in one drink. When Richmond was unable to come up with the money, Bostic became enraged and killed Richmond, they said.

"On June 25 (1982), Carlton Richmond made a decision to hang out with The Wheelmen club, and that decision … cost him his life," Assistant State's Attorney Britta Peffer said.

Bostic's attorney, Michael Salvi, had argued that prosecutors failed to prove there ever was a bet, a fifth of whiskey, a gun or even a murder.

"They have to prove that Mr. Bostic pulled the trigger and that when he pulled the trigger he did so knowingly," Salvi said in his closing argument. "An accident is not murder. If the Jack Daniels was not true, there was no motive, and the state's case collapses."

Assistant State's Attorney Ken LaRue countered that the dearth of physical evidence was because the fellow motorcycle club members have been covering for Bostic since the shooting occurred.

"Their first reaction was to tell everyone to leave to cover up for this defendant," LaRue said. "Twenty-nine years and 66 days later, they are still dealing with this."

Prosecutors also contended at the trial that Bostic, in phone calls he placed from jail, directed family members to pressure witnesses not to implicate him. From the stand, most of those witnesses said they couldn't recall what happened that night or that they had given incriminating statements to police.

Peffer added that the other men present when Richmond was shot left him to bleed to death while they continued drinking.

After the verdict was announced, Salvi said he was "very disappointed" but would be preparing an appeal.

Bostic is expected to be sentenced Oct. 13.

** Also available online for a limited time at http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-bostic-deliberations-20110902,0,6476687.story

Illinois State Bar Association State Bar of Wisconsin Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce Illinois Trial Lawyers Association McHenry County Bar Association
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