18-year-old pleads guilty in attack on visitor to C-U
URBANA — A Champaign teen who admitted his role in the kidnapping, beating and robbery of an Australian researcher who was visiting Champaign-Urbana a year ago faces up to 20 years in prison.
Dorian Wills, 18, pleaded guilty on Monday to the Oct. 21, 2011, aggravated kidnapping of Clinton Fookes, 34.
Judge Tom Difanis set Wills' sentencing for Dec. 10. At that time, Assistant State's Attorney Lindsey Clark indicated she will dismiss the less serious count of robbery lodged against Wills. Clark agreed to ask for no more than 20 years for the teen. The maximum for the crime is 30 years in prison.
Co-defendants Ralph Gray, 18, and Anthony Davis, 18, both of Champaign, are set to have their cases reviewed on Monday.
Clark laid out the facts of the case that had been pieced together by Champaign police detective Robb Morris for Difanis during Monday's plea.
On the evening of Oct. 20, she said, Fookes had gone to downtown Champaign to get something to eat and play pool. Fookes is a researcher in artificial intelligence who was in the United States for a conference in Washington D.C. and decided to visit professional colleagues at the Department of Computer Science at the University of Illinois.
He was staying at a hotel on North Lincoln Avenue in Urbana and had left Guido's, a downtown Champaign bar, to head back to his hotel. He was walking when he reported being picked up for four or five men who beat him at the site of the initial contact. Not being familiar with the area, Fookes was unable to give Morris specific locations of where things happened to him.
After the initial beating, the attackers threw Fookes into a van, which police later determined had been stolen by Davis, according to Clark.
In the van, they continued to beat Fookes because he refused to supply them with his personal identification number for a credit card.
They drove him to Crystal Lake Park in Urbana and then to an area in the 4300 block of North Mattis Avenue in north Champaign, about a half-mile north of the High School of St. Thomas More. The beating continued along the way before the men pitched him out of the van, leaving him naked in the middle of a field.
Clark said Fookes was likely unconscious for several hours.
"He had knocked on the doors of houses but got no answer," said Clark, who said Fookes made his way to the road about 8:30 a.m. on Oct. 21.
"Several cars went by before one stopped. He was covered in blood and had a huge gash on his head," she said, adding that he was clutching a tarp that he had found in a barn.
Fookes was hospitalized for five days with bleeding on the brain, a broken nose, and cuts, scrapes and bruises to his body.
Clark said the robbers got a watch, a small amount of cash from Fookes' wallet and his cell phone.
It was the cell phone that Morris used to track down the attackers. He found the phone in Peoria, where a woman had purchased it from a man who said he bought it on Ebay.
Using phone records, Morris was led to a phone number associated with Anthony Davis, who later admitted his role in the kidnapping and robbery, and led Morris to the co-defendants.
Clark said Fookes was happy to hear of Wills' plea and had endorsed the plea agreement.
"He does not want to have to come back to Champaign County because this happened to him here," she said.