A 31-year-old man was found guilty in the 2011 shooting death of a Chicago police officer who was moonlighting as a security guard at an Austin convenience store.
Alexander Villa was found guilty of first-degree murder, attempted murder and armed robbery by a Cook County jury late Thursday. Jurors reached their verdict at 11:30 p.m. — after more than two hours of deliberations and a four-day trial, according to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office.
Prosecutors said Villa burst into M&M Quick Foods, where Clifton Lewis was working an off-duty security job, and opened fire, leaping over the counter to shoot Lewis as the police officer struggled to draw his gun. Co-defendant Tyrone Clay, who still is awaiting trial, allegedly snatched cash from the register — making off with $670 — while Villa took the officer’s gun.
Getaway driver Edgardo Colon, who was sentenced to 84 years in prison for his role in the murder following a 2017 trial, was called as prosecution witness, but refused to answer questions even after he was cited for contempt of court by Judge James Linn.
Since Monday, jurors saw surveillance video — played frame-by-frame — that showed the shooting from multiple surveillance cameras inside the store, and heard the testimony of multiple witnesses who claimed to have heard Villa discussing or bragging about shooting a police officer during the robbery.
Lewis was an eight-year veteran of the CPD, and had only recently taken the side job at the convenience store to help pay for his upcoming wedding. He’s proposed to his longtime girlfriend just four days before his death. Lewis had an 11-year-old daughter, and was a father figure to his girlfriend’s teenage son.
Villa was the last of the three defendants charged in Lewis’ murder, with his arrest coming two years after Lewis was killed.
Villa’s attorney, Michael F. Clancy, said investigators singled out Villa as a suspect, trying to close out a high-profile case involving one of their own, and sought to play on the emotions of the jury.
“She wants you to forget the cold, hard facts of the case,” Clancy said of Assistant State’s Attorney Nancy Adduci.
Clancy questioned the credibility of earlier witness testimony as fabricated and based on “rumors on the street,” and told jurors to focus on the video evidence and phone records. Those sources, Clancy said, couldn’t lie or be swayed by human emotion.
In her closing argument, Adduci compared the case to a puzzle with missing pieces but said the picture painted by prosecutors — that of a guilty Villa — should be clear.
“The video shows it all,” Adduci said.