Centralia man charged with murder in Clay County

A 27-year-old Centralia man is facing murder charges in Clay County in connection with the death of an 80-year-old man.

Christopher Gallatin

Christopher Gallatin is one of two defendants charged Monday with entering the rural Edgewood home belonging to Roger Courson. Bond was set at $2.5 million.

According to online court records, Gallatin has been charged with two counts of Class M murder and one Class 1 felony count of residential burglary.

According to WRXX, authorities believe Gallatin and 30-year-old Walter West of Edgewood allegedly entered into Courson’s residents, caused his death and then took a gun safe, several guns and a television set.

Walter West

Courson’s body was found on Sept. 26 by a family member who then notified police. Illinois State Police had earlier reported that a tip from the Effingham City Police Department Crimestoppers’ led authorities to the subjects. Both Gallatin and West were arrested on Thursday.

An investigation is ongoing involving the state police Division of Criminal Investigation Zone 8, the Clay and Marion County Sherif’s departments and the Centralia Police Department.

West is also facing two counts of first-degree murder and a count of Class 1 residential burglary.

Both Gallatin and West remain in Clay County Jail.

Illinois State Police report that an Effingham City Police Department Crimestoppers’ tip from the public led to the development of suspects in the case. Based on information gathered during the investigation, West and Gallatin were taken into custody on Thursday. A Clay County judge found probable cause on Friday night to detain West and Gallatin.

Illinois State Police Division of Criminal Investigation Zone 8 was assisted in what they are terming an “open and ongoing investigation” by the Clay County and Marion County Sheriff’s Departments and Centralia Police Department.

On Monday, both men were charged with two counts each first-degree murder and one count each Class 1 residential burglary. They both remain in the Clay County Jail awaiting the setting of bond and advisement of the charges against them.

A further proceeding hearing for Gallatin is set for Wednesday. West is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Oct. 18.

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