A drug deal in a Taco Bell parking lot ended with a lone shot and a college student dead. Now, the killer will spend more than a decade behind bars.
This month, an Illinois judge sentenced Dwight Watkins to 16 years in prison as part of a plea agreement. Watkins pleaded guilty to a second-degree murder charge for the killing of William Spruell, 21, in April 2020.
Watkins initially faced a first-degree murder charge.
On April 24, Spruell met Watkins for a drug deal at the Crest Hill, Illinois, Taco Bell, according to the Shaw Local News Network. There, the two got into an altercation and Watkins shot Spruell with a single shot.
Police responded to the fast-food restaurant and found evidence of a shooting but no victim, the News Network noted.
Officer later learned that Spruell was the victim and he had died at a hospital. Watkins was charged months later.
The plea deal ended the case and several of Spruell’s family was in the courtroom when Watkins admitted to his crime, according to Patch. His mother addressed the court.
Defense attorneys and prosecutors agreed the plea deal was needed as it was unlikely a jury would convict Watkins of first-degree murder, according to Patch. But the defense admitted that their client could have been found guilty of the charge he pled to.
Defense attorney Jeff Tomczak admitted to Patch the plea agreement was “fair.”
The lawyer added Watkins’ family will continue to support him and hoped that he would turn his life around while in prison.
An obituary for Spruell stated he was well known in the Joliet area of Illinois thanks to his sports exploits.
"Will attended and graduated from Joliet West High School, where his photo is still on display in their Champions Hall for wrestling," his obituary stated, according to Patch. "At the time of his death, he was currently enrolled in college for his Business Management Degree."
Become a Front Page Detective
Sign up to receive breaking
Front Page Detectives
news and exclusive investigations.