UI football player makes court appearance

URBANA — A University of Illinois football player accused of beating two men who were holding hands as they walked is due back in court next week.

Christopher Jones, 20, who listed an address in the 400 block of East Chalmers Street, was charged Tuesday in Champaign County Circuit Court with two counts of aggravated battery for allegedly hitting two men in the head early Sunday.

Assistant State's Attorney Scott Larson said the men were walking in the 600 block of East Daniel Street holding hands when Jones drove by in a car.

He and others in the car taunted the pedestrians by calling them derogatory names, Larson said. The car stopped, Jones got out and called the men more names, Larson said.

He then hit each of them in the head with a fist. One sustained a cut to the inside of his mouth and the other had swelling around his eyes, he said.

Larson said Jones, a defensive tackle for the Illinois team, told police that he had been "jumped" by one of the men a week earlier.

Larson noted for Judge Rich Klaus that Jones weighs 320 pounds while the alleged victims weigh 140 and 165 pounds. Larson said the attack was recorded on a security video.

Klaus agreed to appoint the public defender for Jones.

Assistant Public Defender Janie Miller-Jones said Jones is an incoming freshman on a scholarship who is currently attending summer school and has no income.

Larson said Jones had prior police contact in Florida for possession of cocaine.

Klaus declined to reduce the $100,000 bond set for Jones over the weekend by Judge Chase Leonhard, meaning Jones will need to post $10,000 in cash to get out of jail.

He told him to be back in court July 14 for a preliminary hearing.

UI spokesman Kent Brown said Jones has been suspended.

Duval County, Fla., records show Jones pleaded guilty in July 2010 to cocaine possession and was sentenced to 60 days' probation. Brown said UI football coach Ron Zook is aware of that conviction.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Batman wrote on July 05, 2011 at 4:07 pm

It is very heartening to know that Ron Zook recruits convicted criminals.

IU1977 wrote on July 05, 2011 at 4:07 pm

It would be interesting to note what the names that he used towards the victim was. If they were part of hate speech, then he should be charged as such. Wonder who will post his 10k bond.

NGreader1 wrote on July 05, 2011 at 4:07 pm

I say yank his scholarship right now...he hasn't even got started and he's already in trouble here. There's a lot of local talent being overlooked.

Beem wrote on July 05, 2011 at 4:07 pm

I would think that this would be the last the university and football team will see of Mr. Jones. Knowing about the earlier conviction, this would have been his "second chance."

sameeker wrote on July 05, 2011 at 6:07 pm

How do you get 60 days probation for posessing cocain? Oh yes, this is Florida where they have a very lax attitude toward criminals (unless you are a tourist). I also want to know why the guy isn't charged with hate crime. That law is intended to protect more then one group you know.

zeroesandones wrote on July 05, 2011 at 6:07 pm

"Jones told police the incident was RETALIATION for another fight a week earlier"
That comment alone made by Jones is incriminating evidence.. He has just admitted to hitting the victims.. Unless there is proof of the supposed fight a week earlier.. Then that wont hold water...
And if there is proof.. That is not the way you are to handle an altercation.. There is a legal way to do so..
This is a bad representation for the UofI football team and athletics department..
But having the privilege to wear the uniform comes with results when you do wrong..
UofI should suspend him.. and remove him from the roster..
There are alot of good players that would love to be in his shoes and be just as good..
Of course if he is any good.. then lets pretend this didnt happen..(sarcasm)

areader wrote on July 06, 2011 at 5:07 am

I agree with your comments 100% The player in question is disgusting and should be kicked off the team! And I can't believe the football team management staff allows this behavior!!!!! I am sick of reading that players receive a little slap on the hand and they are "back in the game"--when is Zook going to start taking control and dimissing players who do not handle themselves respectably "on and off" the playing field? Yes, that's what I said. I agree with other readers that it should be an honor to be a member of the U of I football team--I'm sure there are decent young men on the bench who would be good players! I'm not attending another game--waste of my time! PS Pull his scholarship too!!!!!

yeahokay wrote on July 05, 2011 at 7:07 pm

There is an additional felony charge that NEEDS to be filed to teach people like this a lesson in Champaign County! The Illinois Hate Crime Law reads as follows:

(720 ILCS 5/12‑7.1)
(a) A person commits hate crime when, by reason of the actual or perceived race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, or national origin of another individual or group of individuals, regardless of the existence of any other motivating factor or factors, he commits assault, battery, aggravated assault, misdemeanor theft, criminal trespass to residence, misdemeanor criminal damage to property, criminal trespass to vehicle, criminal trespass to real property, mob action or disorderly conduct as these crimes are defined in Sections 12‑1, 12‑2, 12‑3, 16‑1, 19‑4, 21‑1, 21‑2, 21‑3, 25‑1, and 26‑1 of this Code, respectively, or harassment by telephone as defined in Section 1‑1 of the Harassing and Obscene Communications Act, or harassment through electronic communications as defined in clauses (a)(2) and (a)(4) of Section 1‑2 of the Harassing and Obscene Communications Act.

Jones committed a hate crime here. The fact that he's not being charged with it just goes to show that Julia Rietz's office is picking and choosing which laws to enforce here in Champaign County once again. She is a disgrace to justice. Her office is perpetuating the crime in this town by not prosecuting to the fullest extent of the law, so these criminals hit the streets without serving their time or learning the lesson that crime like this won't be tolerated in our communities. It's time for the citizens to start using their voice. Zero tolerance enforcement for violent crimes in our communities, and a new states attorney are in order.

serf wrote on July 05, 2011 at 8:07 pm

Clearly I don't want to minimize what happened in this instance. Actually, my comment doesn't have anything to do with this incident at all.

I'd just like to point out that there never seems to be a shortage of people who are quick to scream AAAAHHHHHH, the sky is falling!!!! Criminals are everywhere!!!! the system won't save us!!!!!! Send them all to prison forever!!!!!!!! Nobody knows as much as I do!!!!!!!!! AAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!

Just calm down, folks.

alabaster jones 71 wrote on July 14, 2011 at 9:07 pm
Profile Picture

The truth if I've ever seen it, brother.

Anonymous1 wrote on July 05, 2011 at 9:07 pm

The only way we can eliminate violent crimes like this from our society is to sentence this man, and anyone who commits a violent crime, with the death penalty if found guilty.

SouthernMan wrote on July 05, 2011 at 9:07 pm

If convicted of his crime make him work at a gay bar for 6 months, full time.

Yatiri wrote on July 06, 2011 at 5:07 am

This is the best idea yet.

repeteil wrote on July 09, 2011 at 4:07 pm

What do you expect. Zook is from Florida and the player is from Florida. Birds of a kind flock together. Zook needs to be replaced. I only hope that the new person in charge sees to it that Zook goes out the door.

floydthe barber wrote on July 09, 2011 at 8:07 pm

Is stealing 26 DVDs, PlayStation and Xbox game systems, two backpacks, a pair of dress shoes and $200 as bad as this crime? If it isn't maybe some of you Luther Head and Rich McBride fans can find it in your heart to forgive him if he contributes to a great football team(s). If he gets off and helps the Illini win the big ten and a bowl game most of the head hunters will forget just like they did for those two criminals who just made an error in judgement . Maybe we can have Roger Powell come back and pray with him for direction, after all it worked for the basketball team.