Dismemberment 'ringleader' gets 15 years in prison (w/video)
URBANA — Davion Hedrick trembled Tuesday through most of his hour-long sentencing hearing for taking part in the dismemberment of a friend’s body.
Seconds after receiving a 15-year sentence to prison for what the judge called a “barbaric” act, Hedrick looked back at his family, walked through the door to a holding cell and wailed.
His mother also sobbed, as did victim Ashley Gibson’s mother. Other of her family members sat stone-faced, numb with grief.
Hedrick, 27, described by Assistant State’s Attorney Troy Lozar as the “ringleader” of six men who cut up and disposed of the body of Miss Gibson after she died of a drug overdose, wanted her family to know he was sorry.
“My actions. I can’t take them back but I can say I’m sorry,” Hedrick said as he faced Ranae Gibson, the mother of the woman whose body he pleaded guilty to dismembering last April 18.
“I came home to this and I didn’t know what to do,” he said. “My daughter was on her way home from getting off the bus and I panicked.”
Hedrick, who lived in the 1500 block of Hedge Road, told the judge he had a previous drug conviction, was on parole, and felt that if he called police, they would assume he had caused her death, which he had not.
Instead, he called five men and two women who had been at his house partying the day before to come back. There, the men devised and carried out a plan to cut up her body.
Hedrick admitted that he took a leading role in that process, including putting the parts in garbage bags and tossing the bags in Clinton Lake in DeWitt County.
But it was Hedrick’s statements to police, his attorney argued, that also solved the case, leading to the arrest of the other five men.
Four others have already been sentenced to seven years in prison; a fifth has not had his case resolved.
“I’m not saying my part was minimum or maximum. Everyone there had equal opportunity to do the same thing I’m accused of doing. Although I did do gruesome things, my biggest mistake was not calling the police. I was afraid of the outcome. I wish I could go back,” said Hedrick, the father of two children.
Ranae Gibson also referred to her daughter’s two sons, who she said miss their mother, as does her entire family.
“Ashley was my daughter, my everything, and they just threw her away like she was trash. And she was there because she trusted these guys. You wouldn’t treat a dog this way. I would have come and got her,” she said.
“We don’t understand. They could have just put her on a curb. It didn’t have to happen like this,” said Gibson.
Lozar asked for a sentence close to the maximum of 30 years in prison for the Class X offense of dismemberment of a human body while defense attorney Dan Jackson of Champaign sought a sentence closer to the minimum six years.
“He did more than just plead guilty. He solved this matter,” Jackson said of Hedrick’s cooperation with police, which included naming names and showing them the spot where he tossed the remains.
“If he had not cooperated, that would have been even more tragic. His remorse is profound,” Jackson said.
Lozar agreed that Hedrick was helpful to police — after initially denying involvement — but said it was his “selfishness” that led to the awful decision to dispose of her remains in the way the men did.
He also noted that Hedrick had prior felony convictions for resisting arrest, unlawful possession of a weapon and unlawful delivery of a controlled substance.
Judge Tom Difanis said he had to consider deterrence as he fashioned a sentence, conceding “this is an offense the court rarely sees.”
“He has shown remorse but what he did and what the others did is deprive this family of proper closure,” the judge said. “This is a tragedy for Miss Gibson’s family and for Mr. Hedrick’s family.”
Hedrick was given credit on his sentence for 301 days already served. With good behavior, he can earn day-for-day good time, meaning he could be out in less than seven years.