'This young man is dangerous'
URBANA — A teen from Champaign who took part in a Campustown attack that ultimately resulted in a man’s death has been sentenced to juvenile prison.
“The bottom line is, this young man is dangerous,” Judge Tom Difanis said Thursday as he imposed a five-year sentence on the 16-year-old for aggravated battery.
The youth is one of nine young men charged with the Sept. 25 attack on Edwin McCraney, 21, of Champaign, who was stomped and kicked on the sidewalk in the 300 block of East Green Street in Champaign.
McCraney’s friend, Robbie Patton, saw what was happening to McCraney, allegedly pulled a gun and began firing into the crowd of attackers. None of the nine alleged kickers was hit but four other innocent passersby were shot, one fatally.
Patton 19, has been charged with the murder of George Korchev, 22, of Mundelein, and aggravated battery with a firearm for wounding three other men.
Four of the kickers have pleaded guilty to aggravated battery. The teen sentenced Thursday is the only one prosecuted as a juvenile. The other three who pleaded guilty are set to be sentenced in two weeks.
Of the remaining five, two have eluded arrest and three are in jail waiting for their cases to wind through the justice system.
State’s Attorney Julia Rietz argued for the prison sentence for the teen, who had at least five prior juvenile convictions since 2012.
“He and the others essentially stomped a helpless individual on a public way on Green Street outside a party. The victim was defenseless and alone, kicked in the head and body as he lay motionless on the sidewalk,” she said.
She argued that the offense was bad enough on its own to warrant a prison sentence. But given the boy’s prior adjudications for residential burglary, aggravated battery and resisting police, she said he had run out of options.
“He has had every opportunity in juvenile court to address the issues he brings,” she said, noting he was on parole at the time of the attack.
“This aggravated battery set off conduct by another individual that resulted in the tragic death of an entirely innocent citizen walking down the sidewalk enjoying an evening with friends,” she said.
“The offense is simply so egregious and his prior history so significant, the state has no alternative but to recommend a sentence to the Department of Juvenile Justice,” she said.
The boy’s attorney, Andrea Bergstrom of Urbana, urged the judge to give her client a chance at a community-based sentenced.
She said the youth had made significant improvements in his behavior since his arrest Oct. 6 and is trying to move forward in spite of his record.
“He quickly acknowledged his role in the charges that brought him here,” Bergstrom said. “This is a situation that got much more out of hand than (the youth) and the co-defendants realized was going to happen.”
Difanis said he didn’t think any of the past punishments given the teen, including previous trips to juvenile prison, had made much of a difference.
“He became involved with a mob that decided to beat the living daylights out of someone. The safety of the public is paramount and trumps all other opportunities for him should he remain in the community,” Difanis said.