3 accused in carjacking plead guilty to lesser charges

3 accused in carjacking plead guilty to lesser charges

URBANA — Three of five men accused in an armed robbery and carjacking that happened in January in Urbana have entered guilty pleas to lesser charges.

The original charges against the men stemmed from an incident that occurred about 3 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 12, in the 1600 block of Hunter Street.

Urbana police found two men, ages 29 and 39, who had been beaten and robbed of cash, a cellphone and a 1997 pickup truck.

Police said one man had approached them as they sat in the truck and engaged in a brief conversation. That man then went inside an apartment but came out about 10 minutes later with others who then proceeded to break out a truck window and beat up the victims.

Some of the men fled on foot and at least one drove off in the truck, which was recovered less than an hour later a few blocks away. Police, with the help of a Champaign County sheriff's office tracking dog, located the men in an apartment in the 1600 block of Hunter Street.

The three whose cases were resolved Friday before Judge Heidi Ladd were:

— Robert A. Grady, 19, of the 800 block of North Coler Avenue, Urbana, who pleaded guilty to obstructing justice for two years of probation and 146 days in jail with credit for time served. Assistant State's Attorney Dan Clifton said Grady lied to Urbana police during the course of the investigation. He had prior misdemeanor convictions for retail theft.

— Andrew C. Bell, 19, of the 1100 block of South Northwood Drive, Champaign, who pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of weapons by a felon for possessing a Glock handgun. He was sentenced to three years in prison with credit for 146 days served. With a prior burglary conviction, Bell is not allowed to own a weapon. Clifton said Bell had prior adjudications as a juvenile as well as the adult burglary conviction.

— Zachary Gray, 19, of the 1600 block of Hunter Street, Urbana, who pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of weapons by a felon for possessing a Glock handgun. He was sentenced to two years in prison with credit for 146 days served. With a prior aggravated driving under the influence conviction, Gray is not allowed to own a weapon. He also had prior juvenile adjudications in addition to the DUI conviction, Clifton said.

In exchange for their guilty pleas, Clifton agreed to dismiss more serious charges of aggravated vehicular hijacking and armed robbery. Gray and Bell are also supposed to testify against the two other co-defendants whose cases are pending.

They are:

— Herbert Shah, 21, of the 700 block of East Illinois Street, Urbana, who is set to be tried Monday afternoon before Ladd.

— William L. Ayers, 22, of the 2500 block of Prairie Green, Urbana, who is due in court June 17.

Clifton said the Glock handgun that Gray and Bell admitted they had was stolen from the Rural King store in Champaign on Sept. 3. Two men have pleaded guilty to burglary for breaking in and stealing 23 handguns, only 10 of which have been recovered. Both were sentenced to prison last month.

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