Prosecutor: Accused murderer 'made scene' after being denied cigarette purchase

WATSEKA — Andrew M. Condon appeared “visibly upset” and “made a scene” when a clerk at a Gilman gas station denied him the sale of a pack of cigarettes, some two hours before he allegedly returned with a handgun and shot the clerk to death, Iroquois County’s top prosecutor said Tuesday.

State’s Attorney Jim Devine said the “64,000-dollar question” remains what the 33-year-old Ashkum man’s motive was for allegedly murdering Jonathan D. Rubin, 27, of Danforth, during the early-morning hours of Oct. 27 at the Shell gas station on the west side of Interstate 57.

And Devine said he is not ready to reveal the theory he plans to argue to a jury.

But Devine did disclose previously unannounced details of the crime Tuesday, including that security video shows Condon “visibly upset” after he was unable to produce identification when trying to buy cigarettes from Mr. Rubin.

“He was upset about it,” Devine said. “He made a scene.”

Condon remained Tuesday at the Iroquois County Jail on a $1 million bond, charged with two counts of first-degree murder. In court Tuesday, Condon pleaded not guilty and Kankakee attorney Gregory Morgan entered his appearance to represent him. Arraignment was set for 1:30 p.m. Dec. 10.

Condon was arrested on a warrant for murder on Nov. 9 by Iroquois County sheriff’s deputies and Gilman police, Sheriff Derek Hagen said. The arrest came about a week after police twice searched Condon’s 3-acre farm at 561 E. 2700 West Road, about 2 1/2 miles west of Ashkum, Devine said.

Prior to search warrants being executed, Condon was identified from surveillance video as a suspect, Devine said.

Iroquois County and Illinois State Police investigators first searched Condon’s residence on Oct. 31 to look for evidence linking him to the murder, Devine said. Police found five near-mature cannabis plants growing in a shed, as well as 500 pills of Xanax, Devine said. Other evidence seized in connection with the murder investigation was sent to a state police crime lab for analysis.

Condon was arrested that same day and charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession of cannabis (30-500 grams) and production of five or fewer cannabis plants.

On Nov. 1, investigators returned to the property and searched an earthen berm that Condon had used as a backstop for target practice, Devine said.

Bullets and shell casings found there were determined to be from a Glock 9-mm handgun — a forensic match with the murder weapon, Devine said.

Both Devine and Hagen declined to disclose whether the murder weapon has been recovered.

Condon, who had posted $5,000 cash bond to be released from jail a few days after his initial arrest for cannabis, was then arrested on a warrant for first-degree murder on the afternoon of Nov. 9.

Devine said that 90 minutes prior to the shooting, Condon is seen on security footage attempting to buy a pack of cigarettes from Mr. Rubin, but Condon did not have identification, so Mr. Rubin refused the sale.

After Condon “made a scene,” Condon’s wife entered the store moments later, around 1:55 or 2 a.m., and bought cigarettes, Devine said, adding that she had an ID.  
Condon and his wife apparently drove to the store together, although there was no security video outside the store to confirm that, Devine said. They were on their way home from Onarga, Devine said.

Condon allegedly returned to the store about “115 to 120 minutes later,” firing multiple shots at Mr. Rubin and leaving him for dead in a storage room, Devine said.

Mr. Rubin was found inside a storage room near some coolers around 3:30 a.m. by a truck driver who had come in to use the restroom and buy coffee, Hagen has said.

An autopsy determined that Mr. Rubin died from multiple gunshot wounds.

“The fatal wounds were toward the chest, the torso area,” Coroner Bill Cheatum said. “Most of them were to the torso, hitting most of the major organs.”

Devine said Condon’s wife was not in the store when the murder occurred, and she has not been charged with any crime.

The sheriff’s office continues to investigate the murder, Hagen said.

Devine said the two counts of first-degree murder allege Condon shot a person, creating a “strong probability of death,” and that he “created great bodily harm, resulting in death.”

Upon conviction, first-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence ranging from 20 years to life in prison. Devine said the sentence would not allow for day-to-day good-conduct credit.

Meanwhile, Condon is due in court for arraignment at 1:30 p.m. Nov. 19 in the drug case.

Court records show that in Ford County, Condon was sentenced to two years of court supervision in 2001 for possession of a controlled substance; charges of resisting a police officer were dismissed. In 2003, Condon was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of cannabis (less than 2.5 grams) and resisting a police officer, but all of the charges were later dropped.

Also in 2003, Condon was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, and he received one year of probation.

Condon’s only other criminal history in Ford or Iroquois counties was a charge of criminal damage to property in 1997; Condon received one year of court supervision in return for a guilty plea.

Mr. Rubin, a native of the Woodworth and Milford areas, was a 2003 graduate of Christ Lutheran High School in Buckley. He was described as an excellent student who was consistently on the school’s honor roll, earned the American Legion Award his senior year and was named co-valedictorian.

He also graduated from Olivet Nazarene University where he received a bachelor of science degree in geology.

Mr. Rubin had an interest in the Japanese culture and was learning the language. His goal was to become a translator.

Mr. Rubin was buried at Danforth Cemetery. His funeral was Nov. 2.

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