Man charged with murder in Champaign woman's shooting pleads to weapons offense

Man charged with murder in Champaign woman's shooting pleads to weapons offense

URBANA — A Georgia man who had been charged with first-degree murder because he was present when a Champaign woman was fatally shot on a city street pleaded guilty Wednesday to a weapons offense.

Oshay Cotton, 20, indicated through his appointed attorney, Ed Piraino, that he would return to East Macon, Ga., now that he’s been sentenced to 30 months of probation for his role in the June 12, 2016, death of Ericka Cox-Bailey, 30.

“The only way I could have convicted him of anything is on the word of Takario Greene, and that wasn’t good enough to convict Shamario Brown,” First Assistant State’s Attorney Steve Ziegler said of the co-defendants in Miss Cox-Bailey’s murder.

Greene, 19, of East Macon, Ga., pleaded guilty on Sept. 1 to aggravated battery with a firearm, admitting that he was responsible for the actions of Shamario Brown, 19, whom prosecutors believe fired the shot that killed Miss Cox-Bailey.

Brown, however, was acquitted of her murder by a jury in a trial in February. Greene took a plea deal for 10 years in prison, to be served at 85 percent time. He’s already served more than a year.

Greene’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Amanda Riess, watched as Cotton pleaded guilty to aggravated unlawful use of weapons. Cotton admitted that on June 12, he possessed a .22-caliber revolver at a time when he wasn’t in his own home or business. The charge is a Class 4 felony carrying penalties ranging from probation to one to three years in prison.

Laying out the facts for Judge Tom Difanis, Ziegler said that both Cotton and Greene came to Illinois from Georgia on a bus the day before Miss Cox-Bailey’s death, bringing with them a single .22-caliber pistol.

The evidence would show that on June 12, as the men rode in a car near the intersection of Francis and McKinley, Cotton was in the middle of the back seat between Brown and Greene, both of whom fired shots out their respective windows.

They were aiming at a person that Brown had identified as a member of a rival gang but missed him and hit Miss Cox-Bailey instead, killing her almost instantly.

Ziegler said Cotton was not shooting and may not have known what was about to happen.

“I have no credible evidence, except the statements of Greene, that Cotton was aware that anything unlawful was about to happen. He (Cotton) cooperated to a certain degree and testified in the trial of Brown,” Ziegler told Difanis, attempting to explain the negotiated plea deal.

Ziegler said that Cotton had already served 436 days in the county jail. Court records show he had a prior misdemeanor conviction for domestic battery from 2015. State’s Attorney Julia Rietz said Cotton also had a 2012 juvenile adjudication for residential burglary.

Difanis had sentenced Greene three weeks ago, calling it “the worst decision of his life” to get in a car with the other men while armed with a gun. The judge maintained that Greene knew that the men were out in search of opposing gang members.

Greene did not have any prior convictions.

Although he was acquitted of any role in Miss Cox-Bailey’s death, Brown is serving four years in prison after being sentenced in July for aggravated battery to a peace officer and aggravated unlawful use of weapons in crimes that happened in March in Champaign.

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Bystander wrote on September 20, 2017 at 12:09 pm
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Must be a special leniency week over at the State's Attorney's office. 

GLG wrote on September 20, 2017 at 1:09 pm

Every day is "Lets Make A Deal "day with Reitz & co. 

Voters had a chance to replace her with George Vargas and chose not to.

So enjoy it, You voted for it!

rsp wrote on September 20, 2017 at 2:09 pm

All prosecutors make deals. Every last one. You really sound so out of touch.

BruckJr wrote on September 20, 2017 at 3:09 pm

The guy who killed the dog got a stiffer penalty.

rsp wrote on September 20, 2017 at 8:09 pm

When did the dog killer spend over a year in jail? When exactly did he cooperate with the case? I didn't see that in his story. If you read *this* one, they have no proof Cotton knew what was going to happen. He was in the middle of the seat, didn't fire the gun. He testified in court.

He was still involved. He helped bring the gun here. He helped cover it up.

The other guy beat a puppy to death all by himself. Neither one should have happened.

Pets are considered property. We don't take animal cruelty seriously enough. On the other hand, people complain about "deals" used to get convictions. Some convictions would only happen with deals