Two plead guilty in attack on visiting researcher

URBANA — Two more men have admitted their involvement in an attack on an Australian researcher who was visiting Champaign-Urbana a year ago.

Ralph Gray, 18, who listed an address in the 1100 block of Northwood Drive South, Champaign, and Anthony Davis, 18, whose last known address was in the 2400 block of North Neil Street, Champaign, each pleaded guilty before Judge Tom Difanis to aggravated kidnapping.

Like co-defendant Dorian Wills, 18, who pleaded guilty last week, Assistant State's Attorney Lindsey Clark offered the men a plea agreement that caps her recommendation for their sentence at 20 years in prison. The maximum under the law is 30.

Difanis set sentencing for them for Dec. 12. Wills is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 10.

All three have admitted taking part in the Oct. 21, 2011, attack on Clinton Fookes, 34, a researcher from Australia who was in Champaign-Urbana visiting colleagues at the University of Illinois.

On the evening of Oct. 20, 2011, Clark said, Fookes left a downtown Champaign bar and was walking back to his Urbana hotel when he said four or five men in a van confronted him and began beating him. He was unsure where the initial contact occurred since he wasn't familiar with the area.

They threw Fookes into the van, which Clark said police later learned had been stolen by Davis, and continued to beat Fookes in an effort to get him to give them his personal identification number for his 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, with the beating continuing along the way. The men stripped Fookes of his clothing and personal effects before throwing him out of the van in the middle of a field.

Clark said Fookes was likely unconscious for several hours.

She said he tried to get help in the area but no one answered his knocks on doors and several cars passed him on North Mattis before someone finally helped him.

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 police used to track down the attackers, Clark said.

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jdmac44 wrote on October 30, 2012 at 9:10 am

What goes on in the brains of these people must be a scary thing.