Players each face two charges of felony theft

URBANA – Charges of felony theft were filed against two University of Illinois football players arrested after a hit-and-run accident Friday night near campus.

Arraigned Monday on two charges each of felony theft were Derrick McPhearson, 20, and Joseph "Jody" Ellis, 20, both of whom listed addresses in the 100 block of Sterling Court, Savoy. The charges accuse them of stealing two computers valued at more than $300 each on Friday.

McPherson and Ellis, both sophomores on the football team, were also each charged with four counts of residential burglary, accusing them of going into apartments in the 500 block of East John Street, the 900 block and 1000 block of South Locust Street and the 300 block of East Armory Avenue with the intent to steal property.

Through their attorneys, both pleaded innocent and waived preliminary hearings. Both are due to return to court for pretrial hearings April 10.

McPhearson and Ellis were arrested Friday night. Champaign police said Ellis was driving a car that was involved in a crash at 8:10 p.m. Friday at the intersection of Fourth and Chalmers streets. Ellis had the right-of-way but drove away from the scene, according to police.

A patrol officer stopped a car matching a description given by witnesses, police said. That led to the seizure of suspected stolen property and the arrest of the two football players.

They were released after posting $2,500 each on bond. Mark Lipton appeared in arraignment court Monday with McPhearson. Lipton declined to comment Monday. Ed Piraino appeared with Ellis.

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