State's witness gets probation

URBANA — An Urbana man who helped the state by testifying in a murder case was sentenced Friday to three years of probation for an aggravated robbery.

Judge Heidi Ladd imposed the sentence on Qwantrell Ayres, 22, who listed his address in the 400 block of South Dodson Drive, Urbana.

He pleaded guilty in June, admitting his involvement in robbing a man of cash and cellphones in Urbana on April 1, 2010.

Assistant State's Attorney Dan Clifton dismissed other charges against Ayres, including robbery and aggravated battery for an alleged April 2010 attack on a man in Urbana; home invasion for an alleged attack in April 2010 in the 2200 block of Prairie Green in Urbana; and resisting a peace officer and aggravated fleeing stemming from a November 2009 incident in Champaign.

Ayers had testified at trial against two men who were accused of the murder of James Ellis, 34. He was fatally shot in a home on Joanne Lane in Champaign in December 2008. One of the men was convicted of murder and is serving a 40-year sentence; the other was tried twice but acquitted.

Ladd took into account Ayers' assistance to the state in that case in imposing the sentence of probation.

Clifton said Ayres had prior adjudications as a juvenile but his only prior conviction as an adult was in 2008 for possession of a defaced firearm.

Clifton made no recommendation on the sentence while Ayres' attorney, Mike McClellan of Urbana, asked for probation. Ayres could have received as many as 15 years.

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