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TOLEDO -- A Toledo man has pleaded not guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter and of home invasion that caused injury regarding the Oct. 23 death of another Toledo man.

Thomas Hills, 32, entered this not guilty plea and requested a jury trial late Monday morning during a preliminary hearing in Cumberland County Circuit Court. Hills is charged with killing Zachery L. Yocum, 40, by kicking him in the face in Yocum's home along Missouri Street in Toledo.

During the preliminary hearing, Circuit Judge Jonathan Braden found probable cause to bind Hills over for further court proceedings after hearing testimony from Illinois State Police investigator Andrew Smith.

While being questioned by State's Attorney Bryan Robbins, Smith said he and other state police investigators were dispatched to Toledo on Oct. 23 in response to the death of Yocum. Smith said he interviewed Hills at the Cumberland County jail and his colleagues interviewed witnesses to the incident.

Manslaughter charged filed in case of Toledo man's death

According to these interviews, Smith said Hills was looking for his wife after 5:30 a.m. that day when he called her cellphone and heard it ringing inside Yocum's residence. Smith said Hills then reportedly entered this residence, where he found his wife and Yocum engaged in a sex act. Smith said Hills then reportedly kicked Yocum in the head and left the scene.

Smith said a neighbor was unable to wake Yocum and called 911. Yocum was then taken by ambulance to Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center, where he was officially pronounced dead in the emergency room at 6:58 a.m. Oct. 23.

A medical examiner subsequently conducted an autopsy on Yocum's body at the Champaign County coroner's office in Urbana. Smith said the the autopsy found that Yocum had suffered a heart attack, was intoxicated at the time of his death, and received blunt force trauma to his head. Smith said he observed bruising on the left side of Yocum's face by his eye.

While being questioned by defense attorney Bill Hoffeditz, Smith said Hills had known Yocum for many years and had worked with him. Hoffeditz hypothesized during his questioning that as an acquaintance, there was likely a precedent of Hills entering Yocum's residence. The defense attorney also referenced the autopsy finding that Yocum had suffered a heart attack.

"There is absolutely no evidence the defendant caused that death," Hoffeditz said.

Following the arrest of Hills, his bond was set at a level at which he would need to post $15,000 in order to be released from the custody of the Cumberland County jail. He posted this amount on Oct. 25.

A pretrial conference in this case has been scheduled for Jan. 14.

Photos: 2018 mug shots from the JG-TC

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Contact Rob Stroud at (217) 238-6861. Follow him on Twitter: @RobStroud


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