URBANA — A Rantoul man who was accused of participating in the murder of a rural Rantoul man almost two years ago has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.
Roy D. Duckworth, 28, whose last known address was in the 200 block of Keystone Drive, Rantoul, was sentenced Monday to 10 years in prison for armed robbery. He admitted to Judge Tom Difanis that he robbed Marcus "Boo Man" Brown of his laptop computer and cannabis on Jan. 7, 2011.
Mr. Brown, 21, was found dead in his apartment at the Bell Apartments on U.S. 136 east of Rantoul on the afternoon of Jan. 8, 2011. It wasn't until an autopsy two days later that authorities discovered he had been shot in the back of the head.
Most of his bleeding was internal and because there was no forced entry to his sparsely furnished apartment, Champaign County sheriff's deputies initially theorized he may have died of an asthma attack.
Co-defendant Steven Monroe, 28, also of Rantoul, is tentatively scheduled to be tried a fourth time for Mr. Brown's murder next week.
His three previous jury trials ended in a mistrial. The first and third mistrials were because the juries couldn't reach a unanimous verdict. The second was declared by the judge after jurors expressed concerns that their names were being read aloud in court during jury selection.
Monroe is already serving a 30-year prison sentence for unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon in connection with another shooting case that happened in Rantoul hours after police believe Mr. Brown was fatally shot.
It was the gun in that second shooting that linked Monroe to Mr. Brown's murder.
Police ultimately found a witness who said Monroe, Duckworth and a third defendant, Joseph Emery, 28, of Jackson, Tenn., got out of a car at the Bell Apartments and after a while, returned to the car with a computer and cannabis.
Duckworth was given credit for 607 days already served in the county jail while he was waiting for trial. Under truth-in-sentencing, he'll have to serve 85 percent of the sentence.
"From the evidence, it appeared unlikely that Duckworth was in possession of the weapon or fired the shot that killed Mr. Brown. But he clearly was involved in the armed robbery," said Assistant State's Attorney Steve Ziegler.
Ziegler said Duckworth had prior misdemeanor convictions for possession of cannabis, resisting arrest, and trespass to residence, and felony convictions for burglary and obstructing justice.
Monroe's trial is set to begin Dec. 3. Emery is due back in court Jan. 22.