'Stupid plan' results in robbery, home-invasion charges for 3 UI football players

'Stupid plan' results in robbery, home-invasion charges for 3 UI football players

Lovie Smith weighs in, announces suspensions

URBANA — Three University of Illinois football players are expected to be formally charged Thursday after they allegedly robbed a man of cash in a residence hall early Wednesday.

Champaign police Lt. Dave Shaffer said the incident appeared to be a “stupid plan” that went awry when the victim recognized the voice of one of the men, ultimately leading to the arrest of all three.

In custody Wednesday on preliminary charges of home invasion and armed robbery were Darta L. Lee, 18, and Zarrian J. Holcombe, 19, both of 910 S. Third St., C, and Howard E. Watkins, 18, who listed an address in Cincinnati.

Shaffer said patrol officers were dispatched to Bromley Hall at 910 S. Third St. at 3:20 a.m. for a report of a home invasion.

“Three individuals entered an apartment masked and the victim recognized one of them by voice,” Shaffer said. “He pulled his mask off and tried to make light of the situation. One of them produced what we now know to be fake firearm and demanded cash.”

Shaffer said the trio left with an undisclosed amount of money.

The victim gave police enough information that led them to Lee. Lee spoke with officers and was booked into the county jail about 6:30 a.m.

About 8:30 a.m., Shaffer said, detectives met with Holcombe and Watkins, who had apparently been summoned to the UI football offices. After discussions with the two of them there and at the police station, they were each taken to the county jail and booked in between 10 and 11 a.m.

Shaffer said police have recovered the firearm believed used in the holdup.

If it turns out not to be a real gun, chances are the trio would be charged with the less serious aggravated robbery. Home invasion, however, is a Class X felony carrying penalties ranging from six to 30 years in prison upon conviction.

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Matt Daniels' earlier story ...

Illinois football players Darta Lee, Zarrian Holcombe and HoJo Watkins have been arrested on charges of home invasion and armed robbery and are currently in the Champaign County jail.

Lee was booked into the jail at 6:27 a.m. on Wednesday. Holcombe was booked into the jail at 10:22 a.m. on Wednesday, with Watkins booked at 10:58 a.m.

The Champaign police department is still investigating the alleged incident. Illinois Sports Information Director Kent Brown did not immediately return a phone message.

Lee, 6-foot-3, 320-pound offensive lineman from Fresno, Texas, started as a true freshman for the Illini in their 2016 season opener against Murray State.

Lee went on to play in six games this past season, making another start when Illinois played at Nebraska in its Big Ten opener.

Holcombe, from Houston, played in seven games as a true freshman in 2016, primarily on special teams, where he made two tackles. The 6-foot-6, 220-pound Holcombe spent last season working as a tight end and wide receiver and spent some time along the defensive line during spring practices earlier this year.

Watkins, a 6-5, 280-pound offensive lineman, signed with Illinois as part of the 2017 recruiting class out of Cincinnati Colerain and went through spring practices in February and March with the Illini.

The 18-year-old Lee, who lists an address of South Third Street in Champaign, the 19-year-old Holcombe, who also lists an address of South Third Street in Champaign, and the 18-year-old Watkins, who lists a Cincinnati address, all have arraignments scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Champaign County Courthouse.

 

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whatithink wrote on May 10, 2017 at 10:05 am

Well, this comes as no surprise!  It seems that's all the ILLINI can recruit and get on the football and basketball teams, are criminals.

illiniblueorange wrote on May 10, 2017 at 11:05 am

You are definately one of the stupidest people out there in readerland if you honestly believe what you just said. How can you compare a few bad people to all of Illini student athletes ?

I am sure someone in your family has done something that could be held as criminal , immorral or downright unscrupulous does that make your whole family crap ?

After your comment , I really dont care "whatithink" !!

 

 

illiniblueorange wrote on May 10, 2017 at 11:05 am

You are definately one of the stupidest people out there in readerland if you honestly believe what you just said. How can you compare a few bad people to all of Illini student athletes ?

I am sure someone in your family has done something that could be held as criminal , immorral or downright unscrupulous does that make your whole family crap ?

After your comment , I really dont care "whatithink" !!

 

 

lcoil79 wrote on May 10, 2017 at 10:05 am

How are his football stats relevant to his home invasion and robbery charges?  Maybe you should ask him if he does any quilting and add that also highly relevant information to the story.

champaign61821 wrote on May 10, 2017 at 12:05 pm

Not that it excuses their actions, but I wonder if NCAA student athletes were paid a stipend, if these young men would've resorted to theft. Just a thought.

dbrogd467 wrote on May 10, 2017 at 1:05 pm
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Here's another thought... want paycheck? Get a damn job! They're damn lucky they didn't break in my house... I'm pretty damn sure that at least 2 of the 3 would have left with lead poisoning!

 

Moonpie wrote on May 10, 2017 at 2:05 pm

Tsk, tsk -- just some of Lovie Dovie Savior Man's fine young lads. You know, boys will be boys and all that. Scamps.

At keast we know what they did. If the police weren't involved, the Sloppy Gazoo would never tell us. It would be locked in the ultra secret vault of protect Illini sports secrets. Maybe we'd be told the three are embarking on a special mission to spread goodwill around the world and won't be back until after... Love Dovie has his buyout.

BruckJr wrote on May 10, 2017 at 5:05 pm

Uh, the University of Illinois (and all other conference schools) does pay a stipend to athletes.

Below are the Big Ten schools ranked by their allowances for miscellaneous expenses (stipend). Also included are total cost of 2014-15 attendance at Big Ten universities for state residents (in-state) and students from outside the university's state borders (out-state). Source: CollegeData.com.

       School                       In-State      Out-Of-State   Stipend1Penn State$34,506$47,456$4,7882Wisconsin$24,475$40,725$4,2653Nebraska$22,625$36,545$3,5444Indiana$24,417$47,270$3,0265Maryland$24,214$44,507$3,0246Rutgers$29,875$44,653$2,7637Illinois$29,568$44,194$2,500

 

hughglass wrote on May 10, 2017 at 2:05 pm

Lovie "Thugs R Us" Smith

The legend continues. Lovie will be the most expensive mistake UofI ever made.

The AD is second most expensive mistake.

Roanrider wrote on May 10, 2017 at 3:05 pm

Kick these idiots out of school. It's not that hard, if you're arrested for a felony while attending college, you are INSTANTLY no longer a student. Besides, take away their football ride and see if they would have the grades to be able to get into the U of I. I seriously doubt it.

cjw61822@hotmail.com wrote on May 10, 2017 at 3:05 pm

im gonna guess that the victim was a business man on the side...............

Bystander wrote on May 10, 2017 at 3:05 pm
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What are you all staring at? This is just another chance for the State's Attorney to do her usual legal gymnastics to provide probation for these three football players. College hijinks she'll say...you regular citizens better not try this at home, it's prison for you. 

hermom wrote on May 10, 2017 at 4:05 pm

Tuition money well spent!

 

And as far as a stipend?  There are plenty of students without paid tuition and room & board that aren't stealing from fellow students.  Stipend or no stipend it's not the way to get money.

roach wrote on May 10, 2017 at 4:05 pm

Don't recall an incident like this under Timmy.  Also noted that the recent APR success in football for the first time was under his watch.  He was a goof, but did run a tight ship.

IlliniwekMerica wrote on May 11, 2017 at 8:05 am

Uh... Timmy got fired for abusing players. Crap like this happens in colleges across the nation and will likely result in these 3 young men being kicked out of school/off the team when the dust settles.

Let's not perpetuate the thought that Tim Beckman brought anything but shame to the U of I. 

cjw61822@hotmail.com wrote on May 10, 2017 at 4:05 pm

Believe me when this comes up for trial............. the "victim" will be unable to be located.

BruckJr wrote on May 10, 2017 at 5:05 pm

comes up for trial?  Not if Monty Hall, eh, er Julia Rietz has any say in the matter.

burl55 wrote on May 13, 2017 at 8:05 am

It sounds like the Luther Head deal that was "fixed" so that the basketball team wouldn't suffer from a shot to the foot. That got swept under the rug so fast that no one had time to find out what really happened. I'm sure Monty Hall-JULIA will fix this faster than she did Lora babies DUI from hitting a cop car while the cop was in it. After all, it's the U of I that the three players and Lora baby represent. Reputation? What reputation?  We have to take care of the programs and administration before we care about reputations!

How many athletes and real students have to do their own studies and pay their own way? You know, no scholarship or rich parents. Yet they attended the University and worked a job for extra money? Go to school, do homework, study and still work a part time job. It has been done and no, the "I need free money" entitled groups need to grow up. It's not free money in the real world.