When he rigged up his 12-gauge shotgun by a rope to the shed door, William Wasmund thought he was acting within the law, protecting his property in rural Illinois following a spate of thefts.
But the jury disagreed.
Almost exactly one year after a man’s body appeared on the street outside the wooden shed one morning, having set off the “spring gun” booby trap in the middle of the night, Wasmund was found guilty of murder.
“Wasmund was charged with setting a shotgun with a trigger set to fire when the door of a shed opened knowing that such act created a strong probability of death or great bodily harm to any person opening the door of the shed,” said the Union County prosecutors in a statement released on Sept. 16, exactly one year after the body of Jeffery A. Spicer was found next to his truck by a man who lived nearby.
Wasmund, 48, who lives in Chester, a small town about 50 miles south of St. Louis, was arrested in January.
According to state prosecutors, a jury found Wasmund guilty on Sept. 12 of one count of first-degree murder and one count of aggravated battery.
Wasmund had primed his shotgun with a rope tied to the shed door on his property, calling it a “spring gun,” the state’s attorney had told the court, according to The Southern Illinoisian.
Wasmund’s attorney conceded to the judge in the course of the trial that Wasmund had complained about theft at his property, and had tried to thwart future thefts by digging a hole in front of the door and affixing razor blades to the door. These methods had failed.
The defense claimed he had not set the gun, according to The Southern Illinoisian, and argued that Spicer’s death was caused by his own actions, noting he had ignored the “no trespassing” and “caution do not enter” signs before breaking the lock on the door.
They said evidence showed Spicer, 54, was there to commit a burglary, and that this justified the use of force under Illinois law.
The prosecutor, however, argued that without Wasmund on the property to make the decision to use deadly force, there was no decision.
“The gun doesn’t act reasonably,” Special Prosecutor Matthew Goetten told the court. “The gun just acts.”
Wasmund is appealing the verdict, according to his attorney, who told The Southern, “I don’t believe the jury followed the law.”
Wasmund will be sentenced on Dec. 16 and, according to the state’s attorney, faces between 26 and 90 years in prison.