UPDATE: Car owner in dismemberment case gets 7 years

UPDATE: Car owner in dismemberment case gets 7 years

URBANA — The last of six men who took responsibility for what a judge called a “mob decision to desecrate the body” of a deceased woman has been sentenced to seven years in prison.

The sentence that Judge Tom Difanis gave Donte Meeks, 27, whose last local address was in the 1700 block of Park Terrace, Champaign, was five years less than Assistant State’s Attorney Troy Lozar had requested.

“He was motivated by the others, motivated by fear. It was a stupid decision on the part of these men,” Difanis said.

Lozar argued that co-defendant Davion Hedrick, 27, at whose Hedge Road home the crime occurred, bore the “lion’s share” of the blame for the dismemberment of Ashley Gibson, 24, in April 2016, but that “Meeks falls into that continuum slightly below Hedrick.”

“He’s the one who bought cleaning supplies to destroy evidence,” Lozar said, adding that Meeks supplied the car that was used to transport Miss Gibson’s body parts to Clinton Lake in DeWitt County.

Meeks’ attorney, Tod Urban of Chicago, said Meeks was no more culpable than four of the other men who also received seven years in prison after pleading guilty to dismembering Miss Gibson’s body on April 18, 2016. 

“I just want to apologize to the family. I hope one day they find it in their heart to forgive me,” Meeks said before Difanis imposed the sentence.

Urban argued Meeks should not be penalized more harshly just because he had the car.

Miss Gibson died of an accidental drug overdose at a party at the home of Hedrick in the 1500 block of Hedge Road on April 17, 2016.

Hedrick was sentenced to 15 years in prison for apparently conceiving the idea of — and taking part in — cutting up her body and putting the parts in Clinton Lake.

Champaign police investigator Andre Davis testified that Hedrick had returned to his home April 18, the day after the party, and found the unresponsive Miss Gibson in a bedroom. Panicked, he summoned other people who had been at the party back to his home, where they worked in concert to wash away evidence of sex that some of the men had engaged in with her.

Davis said Meeks also was worried because he was one of the people who supplied drugs that were used by some of the dozen people who were at the party.

The group dismembered her body in the back yard and put the parts in bags that Hedrick and Meeks took to Clinton Lake in Meeks’ car. The two bags were recovered April 24, five days after Ranae Gibson reported her daughter missing.

Miss Gibson’s sister, Ronicqua Gibson, testified Friday that the family has been “tremendously” affected by the way their loved one was treated.

“Ashley was a good person and what was done to her has devastated us in a way I can’t explain. It just hurts really bad,” said the older sister.

Several members of both Miss Gibson’s family and Meeks’ family were in the courtroom for the solemn sentencing, the last in a case that shocked the community by its callousness.

Davis testified that witnesses said even as Meeks took part in the grisly deed, he was talking remorsefully to Miss Gibson.

“Why did you have to die on us? You were cool. You didn’t deserve this. May God forgive me,” Davis testified, recounting what a female witness to the dismemberment recalled.

Davis said Meeks was the one of the six participants to the dismemberment who drove to the store and bought the cleaning supplies they used on her body. And his car was later found in a “low-income neighborhood” of Columbia, Mo., with for sale signs in it. The trunk lining was missing, said Davis.

Meeks was arrested about two weeks after the dismemberment in Columbia. He had cut his hair, police said.

Meeks was given credit on his sentence for 474 days already served in the county jail. The crime is one that qualifies for day-for-day credit, meaning he could be released in a little over two years.

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CommonSenseless wrote on August 18, 2017 at 3:08 pm

From the picture provided, he sure looks remorseful and broken up about what they did.