Morris man found guilty of killing 2-year-old boy

August 19

JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow announced today (Thursday, Aug. 19, 2010) that a judge has found a Morris man guilty of beating to death his girlfriend’s 2-year-old son three years ago.

Gilbert Knowles, 35, was found guilty by Circuit Judge Richard Schoenstedt on two counts of first-degree murder for the killing of Devin Owens on Sept. 17, 2007. Judge Schoenstedt presided over a bench trial during which he heard evidence and testimony in this case. The defendant faces between 20 and 60 years in prison and could be eligible for an extended term when he is sentenced on Oct. 26.

On the night of the murder, Knowles had returned to the Joliet home he shared with his girlfriend at the time after an evening of drinking and using cocaine and was left alone to watch Devin and his 5-year-old sister. The next morning, the boy’s mother found Devin’s body wedged between his bed and the wall.

The boy suffered more than 30 injuries to his head alone during the severe beating he sustained, including bruises, a fractured skull and a torn lip. Bruises on the back of his head matched patterns on a bath mat investigators seized from the house.

A forensic pathologist testified the child died within roughly two hours after Knowles was left alone in the house with the children. Detectives also located a shirt in the woods behind the Wilmington business where Knowles worked that had traces of both the defendant’s and Devin’s DNA on it. Assistant State’s Attorneys Steve Platek and Anna Rossi argued during trial that Knowles attempted to hide the shirt in the woods after committing the murder.

“Society can never tolerate the vicious murder of innocent children like Devin Owens, who have no ability to protect themselves from the senseless violence inflicted by callous deviants,” State’s Attorney Glasgow said. “Justice will be served because Devin’s voice was heard in court by Judge Schoenstedt. Gilbert Knowles will pay for his horrific crime thanks to the judge’s careful examination of the evidence and first-rate work by Joliet police detectives and my two fine prosecutors.”

Glasgow also singled out Wilmington Officer Jose Campos, whose cooperation in the investigation turned up the shirt that Knowles hid in the woods.