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Man charged with killing Knox County deputy pleads not guilty

Daylon Richardson, 22, faces several charges related to the incident that left Knox County Deputy Nicholas Weist, 34, dead.

CAMBRIDGE, Ill. — The man charged with the death of Knox County Sheriff's Deputy Nicholas Weist pleaded not guilty and demanded a jury trial during his preliminary hearing Monday, May 23 at the Henry County Courthouse in Cambridge, Illinois. There was also an order entered that all audio and video relevant to the case be preserved. 

Daylon Richardson, 22, appeared in court for the first time since obtaining a court-appointed lawyer on May 9. 

He is charged with two counts of murder, unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon, aggravated fleeing and eluding in connection to the fatal incident. 

According to the Illinois State Police, it began on the morning of April 29, when Galesburg police officers responded to reports of someone with a gun at the Circle K gas station on Main St. After attempting a traffic stop, officers say Richardson, the alleged driver of the vehicle, fled north on U.S. Highway 150. 

During the ensuing pursuit, police reported seeing a gun in the window of the vehicle, according to Illinois State Police testimony during Richardson's preliminary hearing. 

Deputy Weist was in Henry County, laying down spike strips when the fleeing Richardson allegedly struck and killed him.

Testifying to the court on May 23, Illinois State Police Special Agent Walt Willis said officers arriving on the scene immediately observed that Deputy Weist was down. 

"Immediately after wrecking the vehicle, a black and silver Smith & Wesson handgun, .40 caliber, was located outside the vehicle. Inside the vehicle, a converter kit that you could place a semi-automatic handgun into - basically a rifle stock - was also located within the vehicle," Willis said. "Inside the vehicle, we also recovered three shell casings." 

Willis also testified that a cell phone had also been recovered at the crime scene, allegedly showing pictures of Richardson with a gun similar to the one found at the crash site. 

"There was one photo from the day of the incident, April 29, at approximately 7:27 a.m. There was also two photos the night before, which would be April 28, at approximately 11 p.m.," Willis said. 

The judge ruled there is probable cause in this case. 

RELATED: Deputy Weist's final send-off: Community members line procession route to honor fallen deputy

Richardson made his first court appearance in the case on May 9 without a hired lawyer present. During the hearing, Circuit Judge Terry Patton granted him a public defender, rescheduled his preliminary hearing for May 23 and sealed Richardson's criminal records to the public.

On May 16, Judge Patton denied Richardson's objection to media coverage of the case.

Richardson also faces separate criminal felony charges related to felony possession of a weapon and fleeing policy as well as a felony cannabis charge and a felony charge of "mob action" in Madison County, Illinois. 

According to the county's online court records, Richardson was expected in court for those charges on May 2 and May 20.

As for his next appearance in Henry County, a pretrial conference is slated for 9 a.m. June 16, with a jury trial scheduled for the week of July 5.

RELATED: Knox College pays tribute former students, staff who died in line of duty

To follow our continuing coverage of Richardson's court case, download the WQAD News 8 app and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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