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Burglary trial of accused cop killer's ex-girlfriend begins in Bloomington

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Accused cop killer Floyd Brown was a very selective thief, who took his time going through jewelry boxes and coin collections, before slipping undetected out of expensive Twin City homes, according to victims’ testimony Monday in the residential burglary trial of his former girlfriend.

Shameka Beard-McAllister, 39, is charged with participating in a string of burglaries with Brown in 2018 in McLean and at least three other counties. The defendant opted for a bench trial Monday as her scheduled jury trial was set to open, leaving the decision of her guilt or innocence with Judge Casey Costigan.

Among five burglary victims testifying Monday was a Normal man who described the collection of expensive items missing from his wife’s jewelry cabinet. While some unique necklaces and rings were taken, others were left behind.

“Whoever did this had a discerning eye, but not a perfect eye,” said the Normal man, who knew something was amiss when he stepped on a ring apparently dropped by the thief on the bedroom floor.

Another victim told the judge his wedding ring was among the items taken from his east side Bloomington home while the family was away in May 2018. Two large screen TVs were carefully removed from walls, he said.

A surveillance camera located in the nursery of the family's home recorded a person walking quickly around the room before exiting. The video displayed in court showed a person wearing a mask and clothing that covered all parts of the body.

In response to questions from defense lawyer Stephanie Wong, Bloomington police Officer Andrew Chambers testified Monday he believed the video depicts a white person. Brown and Beard-McAllister are Black.

Among the items reported missing in the burglaries were two handguns, prescription medicine irreplaceable heirloom jewelry. Access to the majority of the homes was made through windows after screens were removed; one home had signs of forced entry through doors. All the residences were located in areas with no neighbors directly behind the home.

Prosecutors Don Rood and Ashley Scarborough are handling the state’s case.

Beard-McAllister claims she went along with her former boyfriend out of fear of physical harm. Brown faces murder charges in state and federal court in the 2019 shooting death of Jacob Keltner, a member of the U.S. Marshal’s Great Lakes Regional Task Force. Officers were attempting to arrest Brown on a McLean County warrant when the suspect shot Keltner.

Disclosed in a motion filed by the state on Monday are Beard-McAllister’s statements to police in January 2019 that she was waiting in the car with a cell phone while Brown went inside the homes they had earlier chosen as targets. She also acknowledged the “very up and down relationship” she had with Brown.

The bench trial is expected to wrap up on Tuesday, with testimony from police and another victim.

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Edith began her career as a reporter with The DeWitt County Observer, a weekly newspaper in Clinton. From 2007 to June 2019, Edith covered crime and legal issues for The Pantagraph, a daily newspaper in Bloomington, Illinois. She previously worked as a correspondent for The Pantagraph covering courts and local government issues in central Illinois.
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