17-year-old sentenced to prison for gun incident on I-74

17-year-old sentenced to prison for gun incident on I-74

URBANA — A Champaign teen who admitted firing a gun at an occupied car on Interstate 74 earlier this year has been sentenced to six years in prison.

Philemon Dukes, 17, whose last known address was in the 1400 block of Mittendorf Drive, will have to serve at least five years of the sentence due to the truth-in-sentencing law. He was given credit for 68 days already served in the county jail.

Dukes pleaded guilty Monday before Champaign County Judge Tom Difanis to a single count of aggravated discharge of a firearm, admitting that on Sept. 12, he fired a gun in the direction of a car with two people in it.

Assistant State's Attorney Stephanie Weber said Dukes and co-defendant Chainze Tucker, 24, of the 300 block of East Church Street, Champaign, had gone to Danville to conduct a transaction with the man and woman who were in the other car.

Weber said there were conflicting statements from the people involved about the nature of the transaction. Some said it was over the sale of a car while another said it stemmed from a cannabis sale.

"A dispute arises over the transaction," Weber said.

The couple in the other vehicle started driving toward Champaign with Dukes and Tucker in pursuit.

Dukes admitted he fired a shot in the direction of the other vehicle but it did not hit the car, she said.

The incident attracted state troopers and several local police because of shots being fired on a public highway.

The Ford Explorer that Dukes and Tucker were in left the interstate and crashed into a utility pole at the intersection of University Avenue and Guardian Drive in east Urbana. Dukes and Tucker got out and ran but were caught not long after.

Weber said she agreed to dismiss charges of armed violence and possession with intent to deliver cannabis in exchange for Dukes' plea. He had no prior criminal convictions.

Police had recovered more than 4 ounces of cannabis outside the wrecked Explorer that Dukes and Tucker had been in.

Tucker's case remains unresolved. He is due back in court Jan. 14.

Weber also dismissed an unrelated case of armed violence and aggravated unlawful use of a weapon against Dukes. In that case, he had been arrested April 28 in downtown Urbana, where he allegedly had cannabis and a loaded weapon in a car.

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