As murder trial opens, suspect in 2017 Schaumburg shooting claims self-defense
On the last day of his life, Quentin Tillison purchased Gummi Bears, his teenage daughter's favorite candy, at a Walgreens on the corner of Roselle and Wise roads in Schaumburg.
Exiting the store at 5:17 p.m. Aug. 14, 2017, the 37-year-old Tillison encountered Oliver L. Rhone in the parking lot and an argument began, according to Cook County prosecutors.
That argument turned deadly when Rhone, 42, pulled out a small, silver handgun and fired once, striking the unarmed Tillison in the abdomen, prosecutors said Monday during opening statements in Rhone's first-degree murder trial at the Rolling Meadows courthouse.
Rhone's attorneys say he acted in self-defense
After he was shot, Tillison ran toward Roselle Road, where he attempted to get help from drivers, said Assistant Cook County State's Attorney Michelle Gemskie. One good Samaritan, a male tow truck driver, called 911. Another, a female Walgreens customer, tried to assist Tillison, who had fallen to the ground.
Both heard Tillison say, "Oliver, Oliver did this," said Gemskie. The statement also was captured on the 911 call, she added.
"No one is going to say Quentin is perfect," but on that day "the only person who had a handgun was the defendant," Gemskie said, stating that Rhone acted "out of bravado, revenge and retaliation."
"This went far beyond any unreasonable belief in self-defense," she added.
Defense attorney Frank Cece disagreed, saying the men had a history. Describing Tillison as a "dangerous man" and a "provocateur" who had a history of being a bully, Cece said Tillison threatened Rhone that day.
"This is a case of self-defense, pure and simple," Cece said, adding that his client believed he was in grave danger.
Testifying for the prosecution, longtime Walgreens employee Margaretta Howery said her shift ended at 5 p.m. on the day of the shooting. Her mother and sisters picked her up about 5:15 p.m. and they drove off, only to return minutes later after she realized she had forgotten her purse.
As she walked toward the store, Howery testified, she saw Tillison and another man she identified as Rhone arguing in the parking lot, but she did not hear what they were saying. As she entered the store, Howery said, she heard a pop that she thought was a gunshot or a firecracker. After retrieving her purse, she left the store and saw Rhone, whom she later identified in a photo lineup at the Schaumburg police station, but not Tillison.
Howery testified Walgreens has multiple video surveillance cameras inside and outside the store. Prosecutors on Monday played the video for Cook County Judge Joel Greenblatt, who is presiding over Rhone's bench trial.
Exterior video showed Howery approaching the store, pausing to look at the two men arguing, then entering. Video from an interior camera directed toward the store's front windows show Tillison and Rhone outside. Video footage also shows an SUV prosecutors say belongs to Rhone leaving the scene.
Testimony continues Tuesday in Rolling Meadows. Rhone is being held without bond at Cook County jail.