Man sentenced to 70 years in killing of Edwardsville attorney Randy Gori
EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. (KMOV) -- The man convicted of murdering Randy Gori - a prominent Metro East attorney - could spend the rest of his life in prison.
Judge Kyle Napp sentenced Timothy Banowetz to 60 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections for the murder charge and 10 years for the armed robbery charge. He will have to serve at lest 65 of those years in prison with no chance of release. He will be imprisoned until he is at least 93 years old.
The sentencing hearing began with Banowetz’s public defender Mary Copeland saying Banowetz doesn’t want her to represent him anymore and he’d like to represent himself moving forward. Judge Napp told Banowetz she doesn’t recommend it but she allowed it, as it is his right. Judge Napp asked Copeland to stay in the courtroom for stand-by council.
Banowetz also said he wants to file a motion to withdraw his guilty plea.
Guilty plea October 5, 2021
As opening statements were set to begin in a Madison County courtroom in early October, Timothy Banowetz’s public defender Mary Copeland addressed the court and said her client would like to plead guilty to first-degree murder and two counts of armed robbery. The first-degree murder guilty plea acknowledged that Banowetz stabbed and cut Randy Gori, causing his death. In the armed robbery guilty pleas, Banowetz admitted to being armed with a dangerous weapon, a knife, and taking cellular phones from the Gori children, who were both minors.
After Copeland entered the guilty pleas, Judge Kyle Napp asked Banowetz if he understood what he was pleading guilty to – Banowetz said he did. Assistant State’s Attorney Jacob Harlow said the state agreed to plea deals.
Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Haine later said Banowetz made the decision to plead guilty minutes before opening arguments were set to begin. Haine disclosed that prosecutors were not prepared to offer Banowetz much because of the overwhelming evidence they had but, with the Gori family’s blessing, agreed to the plea deals to save the family the trauma of reliving that night.
“Nothing can heal the terror and loss that Timothy Banowetz has caused the Gori family and this entire community, but at least today we have some measure of justice and some measure of closure,” said Haine.
What happened Jan. 4, 2020?
Prosecutors later detailed the events that transpired the night of January 4 at the Gori home in the 4500 block of Mooney Creek Lane in Edwardsville.
Gori and his two children had arrived home from dinner and were parked in their driveway outside of the garage when the suspect ran up on them with a fake gun and forced them to the ground. After forcing Gori and the children into the garage, the suspect Zip-tied their hands and demanded money. He then searched the home.
While Banowetz continued searching the home for additional money, a witness showed up. “We believe at that point, Banowetz, enraged that his plan was falling apart, viciously stabbed Randy Gori in the basement of his home. His children were not present for this, thank God,” said Haine.
Haine continued, “We believe Randy’s final act was to initially lead Banowetz to a distant part of the house to distract him and protect them. Then, Banowetz, with Randy’s blood on his hands attacked this arriving witness in her car, though her two large German Shepherd’s protected her, and he retreated, stealing Randy’s Roll Royce and fleeing.”
Gori’s throat had been slit and he was stabbed multiple times. The children were also found tied up. The children’s cellphones and a 2020 Rolls-Royce SUV Cullinan had been stolen. According to Harlow, Banowetz was able to find between $4,000 and $5,000 in the home.
In court, Harlow stated a truck registered to Banowetz was found abandoned about 2,900 feet from the Gori home prior to the murder. The owner of the property where the truck was found did not know Banowetz.
After the murder, and following a hunch, investigators went to where the truck had previously been towed from and found Banowetz walking out of the woods with blood on his shirt. Haine detailed that Banowetz said he was looking for his truck and a note fell to ground as he reached to get his identification.
The note “told the entire murder plan,” said Haine. On the note was a list that read: “Watch with binoculars from woods, Use gun and knife to subdue, Zip tie hands and duct tape mouth, have withdraw $4-$6 million from the bank, Kill all of them and take Zip ties and duct tape off, Burn bodies and house.”
According to Harlow, the stolen Rolls Royce was found about 1,000 feet from where Banowetz’s truck was once parked. Harlow stated an Illinois State Police crime lab later matched the blood on Banowetz to Randy Gori.
While being interviewed by detectives after his arrest, Haine said Banowetz told them, “I don’t think you need me to admit to anything, you guys already have what you need.”
Haine details computer evidence
Haine disclosed the computer evidence in the case was “distributing.”
“A search warrant was done on Banowetz’s computer, which was found in a study room at his school in St. Louis. And nothing in Banowetz’s extensive online history or the written materials on his person indicates that anyone else was involved in this terrible crime, or that he had any personal relationship with Randy Gori. Further, Banowetz was given multiple opportunities to unlock his phone for investigators, and conveniently forgot his code every time. The evidence tells a simpler tale: greed and envy in a warped mind, which caused a terrible cold blooded murder for money.”
Haine detailed that in September 2019 Banowetz had started searching for Gori. Then, in Dec. 27 at 4:03 a.m. Banowetz reportedly looked at photos of Gori and his children on Instagram, 40 minutes later he was looking for binoculars, which he was seen buying at Walmart the next day.
On Dec. 30, Banowetz searched for “What does $1 million look like.” That same morning, he was looking for Zip ties from Walmart and then that evening was looking at more photos of Gori and his children. Internet search history also showed that Banowetz looked at a fake gun online and looked at the Gori home on Google Maps.
Surveillance video from outside of the Gori home the night of the crimes showed a man who had on shoes that matched the ones Banowetz had one when he was found. The video also reportedly showed the man approaching the family as they returned home.
The prosecution had over 200 exhibits prepared for the trail, in what Haine called a “Tour De Force.” Haine claimed Banowetz owed thousands of dollars for tuition to his pharmacy school that was due shortly after the murder.
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