80 years for Champaign molester
URBANA — A Champaign man convicted of sexually molesting a young girl will likely die behind bars.
Champaign County Judge Heidi Ladd Thursday sentenced Sherell Warfield to 80 years in prison for what she called his “despicable acts” against a child in whose home Warfield was a frequent guest.
“I agree with the state there is no measurable rehabilitative potential from this record,” Ladd said of the 38-year-old Warfield, who has a slew of criminal convictions that started when he was a teen.
Under truth-in-sentencing, he will have to serve 85 percent of the sentence, or 68 years behind bars.
In late July, a jury convicted Warfield, whose last known address was in the 700 block of Tawney Court, of two counts of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child for two different sex acts that occurred with the then-9-year-old girl in December 2012.
Testimony at Warfield’s trial was that he had an intermittent sexual relationship with the child’s mother for several years and that she allowed him to come to her Champaign home for sex. The crimes against the child happened while her mother was at work.
To aggravate Warfield’s sentence, Assistant State’s Attorney Scott Bennett had Champaign police detective Andre Davis testify about another girl, now 18, who alleged that Warfield sexually molested her in his Champaign home back in 2011 when she was 14. Although the matter was reported to police, Warfield was never prosecuted for the crime, Davis said, because the teen knew him and did not want him to get in trouble.
Assistant Public Defender Janie Miller-Jones objected to Ladd considering that testimony, given that Ladd had ruled before Warfield’s trial that it could not be admitted since the teen’s statements were deemed inconsistent.
The rules of evidence at a sentencing hearing are much looser, however, and Ladd said even in the light most favorable to Warfield, the conduct in 2011 with the other girl was “inappropriate.”
“It’s clear he has no boundaries on what’s appropriate,” she said.
Bennett had asked for 70 years for Warfield, citing his prior adult convictions for unlawful use of weapons, aggravated battery, unlawful delivery of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance, which netted Warfield at least five prior trips to prison.
And he called the teen’s story from 2011 “eerily similar” to what happened to the 9-year-old girl in 2012.
Bennett said Warfield’s imprisonment would not be a hardship to his family. He noted that Warfield has fathered seven children by five women — the paternity of an eighth child is in dispute — and that he owes more than $86,000 in back child support for just five of those children.
He also argued that Warfield has not been employed in five years but still finds money to regularly drink alcohol and smoke cannabis.
Warfield’s 20-year criminal history, the prosecutor said, “suggests he is a man without a shred of rehabilitative potential.”
Miller-Jones asked for a sentence closer to the minimum of 12 years for Warfield, saying that his last conviction was six years ago and that Warfield maintained he was wrongly convicted of the predatory criminal sexual assault charges.
Ladd agreed with Bennett that Warfield’s imprisonment wouldn’t harm his offspring.
“Apparently he’s been a father only on the night they were conceived,” she said.
The judge said the damage to the child victim “is profound and something she will never forget. Her world will never be the same.”