JOLIET – Prosecutors on Friday dropped murder charges against a Lockport man suspected in a 2015 slaying in Joliet.
Lonnie M. Pinnick, 26, had been charged with killing Sjontre Thompson and wounding Thompson's cousin, Keyshaunna Barfield, in the August 2015 attack.
"All along, it was our belief the evidence collected would result in a dismissal or finding of not guilty," defense attorney Jeff Tomczak said.
Pinnick will remain locked up until 2021 after pleading guilty in a separate gun case earlier this year.
"As we reviewed the [murder] case before a trial approached, there were concerns we would be able to meet the burden of proof," Will County State's Attorney's spokesman Charles Pelkie said. "It is still an open and active investigation and there's always the chance charges could be filed again."
About 1:20 a.m. on Aug. 23, 2015, Thompson and Barfield were leaving a party at the Fairmont housing project in a silver Chevrolet Cruze when Pinnick walked up to say goodbye, according to police interviews. Pinnick told investigators he was friends with Barfield and had no issues with Thompson.
Tomczak said Pinnick was ambushed by unknown assailants and returned fire while police said he'd shot into the Cruze.
"Barfield told detectives 'Lonnie shot over the car to protect us,'" Tomczak noted.
Pinnick was on parole for a gun possession charge at the time of the shooting. He was carrying a revolver when he was stopped by police five days later, though Thompson and Barfield were shot by a semi-automatic handgun.
In March, Pinnick pleaded guilty to being an "armed habitual criminal" for being caught with the revolver and was sentenced to eight years in prison.