Danville teen gets 15 years in Rantoul shooting

Danville teen gets 15 years in Rantoul shooting

URBANA — A Danville teen who said that someone else shot a man at a Rantoul motel last fall, gravely injuring him, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison.

The sentence was half of what Martreail Patton, 19, could have received for his first felony conviction. And he will have to serve 85 percent, or more than 12 years, under Illinois' truth-in-sentencing law.

A Champaign County jury convicted Patton in May of aggravated battery with a firearm, a Class X felony, for shooting Artez Winston, 20, at the Rantoul Motel on Oct. 18.

Judge Tom Difanis said he had never seen a defendant with no prior criminal record convicted of such a serious first offense. Given his lack of record and his young age, Difanis imposed the midrange sentence rather than the maximum 30 years that Assistant State's Attorney Stephanie Weber had sought.

Patton's attorney, Dan Jackson of Champaign, asked for a number closer to the minimum six years. Probation was not an option.

To lessen the sentence, Patton's mother and father testified that he was a good child who had fallen in with the wrong crowd and was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Testimony during the trial was that Patton, his brother, and three cousins had checked in to the motel at 301 N. Century Blvd. intending to use it as a party place for the weekend, as had Winston, his brother and some other friends. The groups did not know each other but passed in the parking lot where Winston's brother arranged to sell $10 worth of marijuana to Patton's cousin, who had only $8.

An alcohol-fueled dispute started over the fact that Winston's brother hadn't delivered the goods and culminated with both Winston and his older brother, Alandize Winston, being shot in their motel room.

Artez Winston was shot in the chest and ended up with a torn liver. His right kidney had to be removed. He identified Patton in court as the shooter, saying he was "very confident" of his identification. Winston had also picked him out of previous photo lineups.

Patton claimed it was his cousin who did the shooting while he stood by.

Weber had to dismiss the charge alleging that Patton also shot Alandize Winston because he declined to cooperate in the prosecution.

Police testified at trial it appeared that Alandize Winston had been shot in the hip and the neck. Artez Winston told the jury he had not talked about the shootings with his brother.

Artez Winston said two men came to their room but was adamant it was Patton who did the shooting. No other person was ever criminally charged. Weber said the evidence was not there to support charges against a second person.

After the shooting, Patton sent a text message to his girlfriend that said, "OK, I think I just killed someone." His attorney, Jackson, had argued that was not a confession but a show of bravado.

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