Salem Woman Pleads Not Guilty to First-Degree Murder of Live-in Boyfriend

Salem Woman Pleads Not Guilty to First-Degree Murder of Live-in Boyfriend

SALEM (WRXX) – A 29-year-old Salem woman charged with the 2021 murder of her live-in boyfriend was formally advised in Marion County Court Tuesday afternoon of the first-degree murder charge against her.

Friends and family of the 31-year-old victim Wesley Bivens watched Christina Bartley enter a not guilty plea to the charge. Judge Mark Stedelin advised Bartley of the charge and its possible sentence if convicted.

Bond in the case was set at $1 million last week when a grand jury indictment was handed down and a warrant for her arrest was issued. Bartley was arrested without incident at her home on North Broadway in Salem Monday night.

Bartley reportedly called 911 around 6:30 p.m. the evening of Thursday, April 15, to report her boyfriend was coming at her, and trying to hit her so she shot him. She informed dispatch she would be waiting outside and had left the gun inside the house she and her boyfriend shared, but was owned by her.

Upon arrival, deputies confirmed a black handgun was sitting on the “snack bar” counter in the kitchen of the home and Bivens was in the hallway of the home, deceased and on his back.

A bullet casing was found next to the victim on his right side and another casing was found on the bed, which was also to his right. The deputy noted a large amount of blood was behind the victim’s head and his arms were covering his chest.

While deputies were awaiting the arrival of the coroner, another man reportedly pulled into the driveway of the home and identified himself as the Bartley’s father.

When asked how he knew something was going on at the home, the man reportedly told the deputy that he has access to security cameras. He then explained that his phone cannot store surveillance footage but he believed there was a recorder inside the home that may show some footage.

After deputies secured a search warrant for the home, an Illinois State Police Crime Scene investigator found two other weapons, a 9mm pistol and .22 rifle from a closet in the downstairs bedroom of the two-bedroom home.

Also secured were approximately 50 rounds of 9mm ammunition located in the glove box of a Chevrolet truck in the driveway that’s registered to Bartley.

Bartley was taken to the Marion County Sheriff’s Department to be interviewed and her cell phone was taken into evidence.  

But charges weren’t filed until Friday when the grand jury handed down their indictment. A bond hearing in the case is scheduled for Wednesday along with her private attorney.

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