Teen pleads guilty in Champaign home robbery

Teen pleads guilty in Champaign home robbery

URBANA — A Champaign teen who admitted his role in the holdup of a woman in her home in March faces up to 30 years in prison when he is sentenced in July.

Marcus Johnson, 17, of the 1700 block of Tara Drive, pleaded guilty Friday before Champaign County Judge Heidi Ladd to a single count of aggravated robbery.

He admitted that on March 18, he took part in robbing a woman in the 700 block of West Harvard Street in Champaign.

Because the victim is over 60, Johnson faces 15 to 30 years in prison. Ladd set sentencing for July 2. In exchange, other charges of armed robbery and home invasion will be dismissed at sentencing.

Co-defendant Erion Davis-Murdock, 15, of Champaign, is set to be back in court June 17 on all those counts. Although both teens are considered juveniles, they were prosecuted as adults because of the gravity of the crime.

Summarizing a Champaign police report, Assistant State’s Attorney Matt Banach told Ladd the 71-year-old mother and her daughter, 15, were home about 8 p.m. when the girl answered a knock at the door. Two young men were present. One, later identified as Davis-Murdock, pushed her out of the way, came in and asked for her brother. The other, later identified as Johnson, pushed the girl onto the couch and pointed a gun at her forehead.

The intruders then took a Kindle Fire and another electronic computer tablet.

The girl’s mother came into the room, saw the two teens yelling at her daughter, and told her to get a phone and call police. The girl grabbed a cordless phone but one of the intruders took it from her. The mother then went into the bathroom to call police on her cellphone but Johnson came in the bathroom and displayed a gun. She then handed over her red flip phone.

The robbers ran from the house west across Prospect Avenue.

En route to the call, police spotted two young men running between houses and behind garages. Sgt. Aaron Lack found Johnson hiding under a pickup truck in a driveway in the 900 block of Harvard. Near him was a red flip phone that was confirmed as the one taken from the resident.

Davis-Murdock was found shortly after walking across Harvard Street. He admitted he had been at an address on Harvard Street with a friend and that he had a backpack but lost it while running. Police found a backpack stuffed under a porch on the rear of a home in the 900 block of Harvard. It had clothing, a cellphone and two computer tablets.

Banach said later, while Johnson and Davis-Murdock were alone briefly in the squad car, the in-car camera recorded the pair laughing about the incident and Johnson reportedly saying that he forgot to throw the resident’s cellphone away. They also discussed the six to 30-year sentencing range for home invasion.

Both teens, Banach said, are members of a gang and also discussed the gang on the videotape.

Banach said no gun was ever fired during the robbery.

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Skepticity wrote on May 20, 2014 at 4:05 pm

Up to 30 years...

Given the deadly possibilities that were involved in the crime (pointing guns at peoples' heads), the age of one victim, the home invasion, self disclosed gang membership and the attitudes of the perpetrators after being caught, I HOPE that boot camp is NOT offered as an option. 

It will be interesting to see the sentences given to them.  

alabaster jones 71 wrote on May 21, 2014 at 10:05 am
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I'm pretty sure boot camp is not a possibility for armed robbery, or any other violent crime.


These two morons are going to prison, no doubt about it.  They might want to work on their street smarts before they get there.  How the hell did they not know that police cars have cameras in them?  If they are dumb enough to tell that story in prison (and by the sound of it, they are), I'm sure their new cellmates will really get a kick out of it.

Yo mama wrote on May 22, 2014 at 8:05 am

Wow only 30 years? No wonder our community continues to get more unsafe :(

Skepticity wrote on May 22, 2014 at 1:05 pm

The plea was for "aggravated robbery."  The charges of "armed robbery and home invasion will be dismissed at sentencing."


I would be amazed if he gets any sentence close to 30 years. 

I expect that he will be given a far lesser sentence due to the "mitigating" circumstances of this being his first adult offense, his youth, and most likely his troubled home life, learning problems, etc. 

I suspect that he will then qualify for impact incarceration, which if he completes it successfully would allow his release on parole within months of entering that program. 

I expect him to be out within a year of his arrival at DOC, if he doesn't blow it with his attitude. 

I hope I am wrong. 

Early release minimizes the seriousness of what they did.  People committing crimes of this nature generally have a sense of how the system works, and how peers were sentenced.  Seeing him out on early release might encourage others to take a chance and commit a similar crime.  Anytime guns are pointed at people during a crime (what happened to the gun charge?) there should be severe consequences. 

alabaster jones 71 wrote on May 27, 2014 at 7:05 pm
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"I expect him to be out within a year of his arrival at DOC, if he doesn't blow it with his attitude. 

I hope I am wrong."


Don't worry.  You will be wrong.  Just like you were wrong about him being eligible for boot camp.

Skepticity wrote on July 02, 2014 at 11:07 pm

Thank goodness that I was wrong and you were correct.  Perhaps I have become overly pessimistic about our justice system.  Judge Ladd assessed this case well. 

"24-year prison term for gang member in robbery"

07/02/14        News-Gazette

Tippytootagon wrote on May 27, 2014 at 3:05 pm

How does a 71 year old woman have a 15 year old daughter? That's what I would like to know.... 

I am thinking the writer intended to mean she was the grandmother?