Champaign teen to be tried as adult on gun charges

Champaign teen to be tried as adult on gun charges

URBANA — A Champaign County judge Wednesday decided that a Champaign teen arrested earlier this month for allegedly having a loaded gun in a city park should be prosecuted as an adult.

Judge Heidi Ladd ruled that the state's attorney's office had presented enough evidence for her to make the discretionary transfer of Jamonhe Watkins, 18, of the 500 block of East Beardsley Avenue to adult court.

Watkins had been arrested about 1:10 p.m. on July 9 at Douglass Park. Champaign police were sent there to check out a tip that there were people in the park with guns. They found Watkins and another person in the park and as they approached, both ran. Watkins was seen throwing a gun by a tree near the playground.

Police discovered that the gun was loaded. They also found more .38-caliber ammunition on Watkins, who admitted that he had the gun because other people had been shooting at him and that he had used the gun in a shooting on Northwood Drive about a week earlier.

Assistant State's Attorney Matt Banach pointed out that Watkins was arrested on the day before his 18th birthday and that he had prior adjudications as a juvenile for aggravated battery, resisting a peace officer and burglary dating back to 2009. He was on parole for a 2012 burglary adjudication at the time of his arrest.

Watkins is charged with five counts — three felonies and two misdemeanors — alleging he had a gun without a firearm owner's identification card and that he resisted a peace officer by running.

Ladd set his bond at $75,000 and told him to be back in court Aug. 12. He was ordered transferred from the detention center to the county jail.

The same criminal charges that had been filed in the juvenile petition were dismissed.

If convicted of the most serious of the felony charges, Watkins faces penalties ranging from probation to two to five years in prison.

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areader wrote on July 23, 2014 at 6:07 pm

Here's a thought . . . why doesn't our legal system eliminate PAROLE?  This might cut down on criminals who break the laws time after time.  Perhaps someone could research the percentage of criminals who on parole break the law.  I think it's worth a try! 

787 wrote on July 23, 2014 at 9:07 pm

Big deal.  Julia Rietz will allow it to go for about 6 months time.  She's a disaster as our State's Attorney.