Carjacking plea brings five years' probation; teen will attend Lincoln's Challenge

Carjacking plea brings five years' probation; teen will attend Lincoln's Challenge

URBANA — An Urbana teen who admitted he carjacked a woman in a parking garage on the University of Illinois campus in August has been sentenced to five years of probation.

Judge Harry Clem ordered that he wear a GPS bracelet and not leave his grandparents' home until he enters the Lincoln's Challenge program in Rantoul on Jan. 14.

For the first time since the Aug. 9 attack on Nancy Dodge, who has been in court for almost all the teen's hearings, the 16-year-old turned to her and apologized.

"I am truly sorry for hurting you physically and emotionally ... and for taking away your sense of security," he said.

"I am a changing person," said the teen, acknowledging that he has a long way to go. "There are days I think solely of myself. I am trying, though."

"I did not apologize because I was so abashed and ashamed of what I had done. It has taken me four months to say 'I'm sorry.' I hope you're one of those people I can do good for," he said to the 57-year-old woman.

The News-Gazette does not normally identify those who are charged with crimes as juveniles.

In September, the teen pleaded guilty to vehicular hijacking for the 7:15 a.m. attack on Dodge in the deck at 1201 W. University Ave., U. As she was walking to her office, Dodge was grabbed from behind and put in a painful chokehold before having her keys taken and her car stolen.

In a previous hearing, she spelled out for Clem the trauma she suffered in the wake of the attack. She had emergency room bills, ongoing counseling, the cost of repairs to her stolen car, the cost of getting it out of storage, and many lost hours of work due to police interviews and having to cancel and replace credit cards and other identifying documents.

She also told Clem of her inability to sleep at night or focus on her work.

The teen had also pleaded guilty in a separate case to possessing a vehicle that had been stolen in April from a home on Taylor Thomas Drive in Champaign.

Clem sentenced him to five years of probation for the vehicular hijacking and four years of probation for the possession of stolen vehicle.

He reminded the teen that what he did was one of the most serious crimes he could have committed short of murder.

"Had you exerted just a little more pressure, you could easily be sitting there charged as an adult with murder," said the veteran juvenile court judge.

While acknowledging that the teen had taken responsibility for his actions by pleading guilty, Clem told the youth that he could benefit from even more "soul searching."

"This world is not about you. The motive (his grandparents' refusal to let him have his own car) is the least possible justification for what you did," he said.

Clem told the teen that if he left his grandparents' home for any activity that had not previously been approved by the probation office, he would be arrested.

"We're going to be looking over your shoulder for a good long time," said Clem.

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use er name wrote on December 18, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Lincoln's ChalleNGe Academy ("Lincoln's ChalleNGe Program" being its former name)  has changed?  Standards were- no legal trouble, no detectable drugs (in any amount), obey, respect and learn. This article makes it seem like a reform school. 

readone wrote on December 18, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Probation?  That's it?  How about a little restitution for Ms. Dodge?  I know that you can never take away what happened to her, but she should be reimbursed for her losses.  Since the young man seems to have a history of committing crimes and stealing cars, how about we get hima job washing cars with all the money going to her until his debt is paid.  Let the young man know that there are comsequences in life.

rsp wrote on December 19, 2012 at 8:12 am

He can't work a job and go to Lincoln. But it will get him out of the enviroment he was in and give him the self discipline he is lacking. On the up side his parents are liable for any and all damages he has caused. A lawsuit against both the parents and the offender for all expenses would be easy to win, but may not be easy to collect. Restitution rarely gets paid and there isn't any recourse. In civil court there is. You can seize assets and swear out warrants till the debt is paid. Seeing mom or dad in jail for his crime may hit home.