Plea brings eight-year sentence in fatal shooting
DANVILLE — A 79-year-old Markham man on Thursday was sentenced to eight years in prison in connection with the 2009 fatal shooting of his former business partner in Danville.
However, a Vermilion County prosecutor said Antone H. Akroush likely won't have to spend much more time behind bars.
That's because Akroush will only have to serve 50 percent of his sentence, and he was credited with already having served nearly three years and nine months (1,353 days) in custody.
"With the credit, it won't be very long at all," Assistant State's Attorney Charles Mockbee IV said.
Akroush originally was charged with four counts of first-degree murder in the Feb. 24, 2009, shooting death of Imad Farah Shteiwi, 55, of Danville.
Mr. Shteiwi was shot in his apartment at 2730 Townway St., Danville, late that morning and died of multiple gunshot wounds to his heart and lung. Mr. Shteiwi's cousin, Raed Al Samawi, who shared the apartment, allegedly was shot at but not injured.
After being found mentally competent to stand trial in May, Akroush pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on Sept. 24. However, he entered what's called an Alford plea, meaning he admitted no guilt but agreed that prosecutors could produce enough evidence to convict him in a trial.
In a statement to Danville police, Akroush said that he, Mr. Shteiwi and Samawi, who were cousins, originally were from Jordan. He said the three were business partners in a casino in South Africa, a liquor store in Chicago and another liquor store in Danville.
At Akroush's preliminary hearing on March 12, 2009, a Danville police detective testified that Akroush went to the cousins' apartment, where they argued over money. When he didn't get the money he thought he was owed, Samawi told police, Akroush pulled out a revolver and fired it at Mr. Shteiwi and then at him. Samawi, whose clothes were grazed by a bullet, told police he used a chair to shield himself and try to knock the gun away.
Mockbee said Samawi has since left the country.
Mockbee said Akroush told police he believed the men were coming at him with a chair, pulled out a gun and shot at them and then left the apartment through a sliding glass door — thus the second-degree murder plea.
"He thought he was defending himself, but his belief was unreasonable," Mockbee said.
Shortly after the shooting, Akroush was arrested on Illinois 1 near Walmart on his way out of town.
Mockbee argued that Akroush should be sentenced to 15 years. However, he said Circuit Judge Nancy Fahey took into account the man's age and health and imposed the lesser sentence.
Akroush's case took several years to come to a conclusion because he had been declared mentally unfit to stand trial and was taken to a mental health facility in Illinois.