URBANA – A Champaign man who plotted to kill his wife and would-be lover's husband was sentenced Thursday to 13 years in prison.
Under truth-in-sentencing, that means it will be about 10 years before Jason Broadstone, 31, of Champaign, can live with his two daughters, whom he begged a judge to let him have a chance to raise.
"All longing for absolution will not bring about a speedy resolution to this," said Broadstone to Judge Heidi Ladd, reading from remarks he had prepared before his sentencing Friday.
Ironically, it was such writing that landed him in jail in the first place.
Broadstone pleaded guilty in February to the attempted murder of his wife, Shawn Broadstone, and William Dawkins of Tolono, the husband of a woman with whom he was having a relationship.
Stephanie Dawkins, 30, also of Tolono, is in jail awaiting trial on charges of the attempted murder of her husband and Mrs. Broadstone, and solicitation to commit murder. That latter charge was dismissed in Broadstone's case when he agreed to plead guilty.
Assistant State's Attorney Elizabeth Dobson, who negotiated the plea agreement with Public Defender Randy Rosenbaum, agreed to cap her sentencing recommendation at 15 years even though attempted murder is a Class X felony carrying a mandatory prison term of six to 30 years. Broadstone had one prior conviction in 1998 for bad checks, court records show.
The case of the would-be lovers and the would-be murders came to the attention of Champaign police on Nov. 6, the same day that Shawn Broadstone, 30, discovered floppy disks in her husband's coat that revealed that he and Stephanie Dawkins – who worked together at Wal-Mart in Savoy – had been corresponding about their love for each other.
The computer disks also revealed that Mr. Broadstone and Mrs. Dawkins had been talking about and researching ways to kill their spouses and make their deaths look like an accident so the two of them could be together.
Bill Dawkins, 41, testified for the prosecution at Friday's sentencing that the first he knew of the plot by his wife and Broadstone was when Champaign police came to his door with a search warrant looking for syringes and his computer.
He conceded he had heard rumors through work – Mr. Dawkins also worked at Wal-Mart – that his wife might be having an affair but he never had any indication from her that anything was wrong. He admitted that he called Broadstone at Wal-Mart in October and "I told him to watch his back."
Dawkins, clearly shaken by the events, testified that he has three children at home ages 16, 13 and 8 and that the subject of their absent mother comes up frequently.
"I've told them their mother and her friend wanted me out of the picture," he said, adding she never asked for a divorce.
Champaign police detective Robert Rea said he interviewed Broadstone after his arrest on Nov. 6. He said Broadstone admitted he loved Stephanie Dawkins and wanted to spend the rest of his life with her but said "they had not made it to lovers yet."
"He thought divorce would be too tough financially and that it would be a longer, drawn out process," Rea said.
Broadstone also told Rea that he looked into staging an accident, poisoning, and injecting an air bubble into the bloodstream as potential murder methods.
"They wanted to have it done by Stephanie's birthday (Nov. 11)," Rea said, noting that the correspondence between Dawkins and Broadstone started at least as early as September.
Rea said Broadstone told him that if caught by police, he and Dawkins had planned to say they were writing a book together. Rea also said Broadstone had filed a couple of harassment complaints against Bill Dawkins with Champaign police to create the impression that he was afraid of Dawkins.
Arguing for the maximum 15 years, Dobson said there was too much planning by Broadstone for the plot to be misconstrued as some kind of "juvenile error."
"He didn't give his children or her children one instant's thought. You have two dead people, five orphaned children and Jason Broadstone and Stephanie Dawkins off engaging in some form of a happy life. Ridiculous!" Dobson said.
But Rosenbaum argued his client wouldn't have carried out the plan.
"By all accounts my client is a writer. He wrote a lot in this fantasizing and dreaming with Stephanie Dawkins. Most of this offense is a mental crime. It's words and it's thoughts. The bottom line is he never intended to go through with this. He had chances to do it but he never did," Rosenbaum said.
But Ladd didn't buy that.
"It's apparent to the court he is an accomplished and adept con man," she said. "All Mr. Broadstone had to do ... was file for divorce. The only explanation the court's been given for why he didn't is that it would have been inconvenient and expensive. That's a chilling explanation."
Conspiracy victim getting divorce, 'over being mad'
Shawn Broadstone will be in a Champaign County courtroom Monday finalizing her divorce from the man who plotted to kill her and another man so he could go live with another woman.
But the 30-year-old Champaign woman didn't want to see her estranged husband imprisoned because she said she relies on him financially and because he has been a good father to their two daughters, ages 11 and 6.
Her support for her husband put her at odds with Assistant State's Attorney Elizabeth Dobson, the prosecutor handling the cases of Jason Broadstone and his would-be lover, Stephanie Dawkins.
Dobson refused to take Mrs. Broadstone's calls for the last several weeks and declined to call her to testify about what she's gone through as she did with Bill Dawkins, the other intended victim in the murder plot.
In the pre-sentence investigation report, Mrs. Broadstone was not listed as a victim, a point that Public Defender Randy Rosenbaum asked Judge Heidi Ladd to correct.
"I'm not considered a victim because I don't want him to spend the rest of his life in jail. I want him to be able to see his kids," Shawn Broadstone told The News-Gazette.
Broadstone said her daughters have been corresponding with their father through letters since January and that has helped them cope with his absence.
As for her, she's now enrolled in Parkland College taking courses that she hopes will help her get into the veterinary technician program. "I've got to get a job where I can support myself and my kids," she said.
She said friends and family have been wonderfully supportive of her and her daughters in the wake of her husband's arrest.
Broadstone, who has a part-time cleaning job, said she is extremely grateful to the many people who have given her gifts of cash.
"Someone sent me a $500 money order anonymously which helped me pay my rent. Christmas was huge. My kids got pretty much everything they wanted," she said.
Broadstone was present for her husband's sentencing, seated next to his parents and his brother. Her aunt and her grandmother were also there.
Dawkins sat on the other side of the courtroom with his mother and the victim-witness coordinator from the state's attorney's office, who escorted him from the courtroom before the hearing was completely over.
"I got over being mad," Shawn Broadstone said.
You can reach Mary Schenk at (217) 351-5313 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.