Dancer Didn't Die In Joliet: Murder Defendant's Lawyer Argues

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JOLIET, IL — After being in Will County’s Jail for three-plus years, Joliet first-degree murder defendant Deointae Shawnrico McMillian wants his charges dismissed in the Nov. 10, 2018, homicide of Schaumburg dancer Danica Shernay Ford, 22.

Around 9 a.m. on Nov. 12, 2018, Will County Sheriff’s investigators recovered Ford’s body from a shallow grave near West Jefferson Street and Houbolt Road. A native of Fayetteville, N.C., McMillian was extradited back to Will County to face charges of murder and concealing a death the following month.

According to the criminal complaint, McMillian “strangled Danica Ford, thereby causing the death of Danica Ford” on Nov. 10, 2018.

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Deointae Shawnrico McMillian, now 27, has remained in custody for three years and two months facing murder charges. Mugshot via Will County Jail

Since November, McMillian’s lawyer, Paul Napolski of Joliet’s Essington Road, has filed multiple motions in hopes of getting his client’s murder charges dismissed on the premise that Ford’s slaying happened outside of Will County.

Napolski’s motion alleges misconduct and incompetent testimony.

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McMillian’s lawyer contends that Will County Sheriff’s Detective Kimberly Topolewski misled the grand jury during her testimony. She was the only person to testify before the grand jury.

In response, Assistant Will County State’s Attorney Erin Krone argued: “The People deny that Detective Kimberly Topolewski either intentionally, purposefully, deliberately or inadvertently misled the grand jury by failing to disclose evidence that the murder occurred in another county and counter assert … that venue is not an element of the offense and therefore failure to testify regarding venue before the grand jury does not amount to misleading the grand jury and therefore does not justify dismissal of the indictment.

“The People deny defendant’s claim that no element of the offense occurred in Will County and therefore Will County is not the proper place for trial, and counter-assert defendant’s motion is untimely as to this ground and that it is not known in which county either the strangulation occurred or death ensued and therefore, the defendant may be tried in the county where the body was discovered.”

Krone has asked the judge “to deny defendant’s motion to dismiss these charges. Alternatively, should the court determine that this county is not the proper place for trial, the People respectfully request that this court transfer the case to the county which it determines is the proper place for trial.”

A motions hearing is set for Feb. 1 in Courtroom 503.

Now 27 years old, McMillian has remained in Will County custody since Dec. 15, 2018. His bail remains $4 million. Ford, the homicide victim, was formerly of Concord, N.C. At the time of her slaying, Ford was the mother of two small children.

In 2018, the Will County Sheriff’s Office announced in a press release, “McMillian left North Carolina and came to Illinois and worked (at an insurance agency) for a very short period. Ford eventually came to Illinois, where the couple moved from hotel to hotel, while Ford also worked as a dancer and hair stylist. Detectives believe it was at this time that McMillian and Ford began having domestic problems, where he ultimately killed her and discarded her body in the woods in Joliet Township.”

Related Joliet Patch coverage:

Will County Sheriff’s Honored For N.C. Arrest

Dead Dancer Found In Joliet Leads To Will County Arrest

Jefferson St. Body Dump Leads To Murder Charge

In 2018, Will County detectives pieced together information from a tattoo, which led to the identity of homicide victim Danica Ford. File/John Ferak/Patch

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