Rantoul man gets 34 years in robbery of man who answered online sex ad

Rantoul man gets 34 years in robbery of man who answered online sex ad

URBANA — A Champaign County judge said public-safety concerns largely contributed to her decision to sentence a Rantoul man to 34 years in prison for the armed robbery of a man who answered an online sex ad.

Judge Heidi Ladd noted that the Oct. 23, 2016, incident at a Rantoul apartment building ended with the victim being shot at as he escaped in his car, saying while it wasn't clear whether Blake Wilson, 23, or co-defendant Lincoln Johns, 21, of Chicago fired the gun, the two acted together and endangered the safety of their neighbors.

"The gun was fired ... with other people around ... thinking they were safe and secure," Ladd said Wednesday at Wilson's sentencing.

A Champaign County jury convicted Wilson of armed robbery on Aug. 24. He was facing up to 45 years. Wilson indicated that he might appeal the sentence; Johns' case is unresolved.

At Wilson's trial, the victim, a 39-year-old Champaign man, testified that he had been drinking heavily that night after the Chicago Cubs secured a berth in the World Series and had answered a sex ad placed on the Backpage classified-ad website by Chelsey McReynolds, 23, of Champaign.

He said when he arrived at the apartment building in the 1100 block of Falcon Drive in Rantoul, McReynolds and another woman took him upstairs to a bedroom, then left. Shortly thereafter, two men police identified as Wilson and Johns came in with their faces covered. One of them pointed a handgun at his face and demanded his property.

"They were pointing the gun at me, screaming and threatening to kill me," the victim said.

McReynolds testified that she was dating Wilson and staying at the apartment during the incident. She pleaded guilty in January to a single count of robbery for her role in the holdup and was sentenced to four years of probation.

The victim testified that after he gave Wilson and Johns his cash, credit cards, keys, phone, phone passcode and credit-card PIN, they hit him around and in the face. He was able to escape the apartment, use a different set of keys to start his vehicle and drive to a nearby gas station, where he called police. He said while he was running to his car, a shot was fired in his direction. Rantoul police later found a bullet hole in his car.

In a statement given before Ladd handed down her sentence, Wilson said only he or Johns should be punished because the victim testified that there was one gun that never changed hands.

Ladd disagreed.

"Accountability means both people acting in concert," Ladd said. "It's clear from the evidence that both people acted together."

Wilson also said in his statement that he was prematurely detained. Rantoul police Sgt. Dustin Morgan said Wilson refused to come outside when police arrived and "put his face in my body cam, smiling."

Wilson's "demeanor was laughing, mocking, refusing to come outside ... so police had reason," Ladd said about the detainment.

Ladd said Wilson's behavior didn't improve after his arrest, noting that he picked on people in jail, urinated on his cell door and threatened to throw feces.

"The defendant doesn't care what he does if he gets away with it," Ladd said, noting no evidence of regret or remorse. "He doesn't care who he victimizes."

Wilson hung his head as she made those statements.

Ladd said another sizeable part of her decision was Wilson's involvement in a Oct. 18 robbery that she called "striking in its similarity." The victim from that incident did not call the police.

"It was the same cast of characters. It was successful, and that's why they did it again," Ladd said. "They took advantage of an easy hire. ... This was well-planned and not spur-of-the-moment."

Ladd also noted Wilson's young daughter in her decision-making, saying he wasn't taking care of her but that she would be at risk around him.

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Common Sense wrote on October 11, 2017 at 9:10 pm

Two more fine, upstanding members of the community. Chitcago manages to send their garbage to the whole rest of the state. Maybe the place we need a wall is around that cesspool.

annabellissimo wrote on October 12, 2017 at 2:10 am

I recall from previous articles about this that the "victim" is married. The article says he is from Champaign and presumably the drinking occurred in Champaign. He says he was "drinking heavily." He goes to Rantoul, meets the two prostitutes who take him upstairs, presumably so the three of them can have a conversation. So, if memory serves, he is a married man who is drunk, drives to Rantoul where he has prearranged to have sexual encounter with one or two women, not his wife, who advertise their services in a local publication which this drunk, married man apparently is familiar with. Driving drunk ("drinking heavily"), engaging prostitutes, anticipating lewd, licentious behavior which he plans to conduct as a business transaction. We don't know, but maybe this 'man' is somebody's father. Women selling themselves as and being treated as commodities and sexual objects. The now convicted criminal has done this crime at least twice, per the article. Guns, beating, engaging prostitutes for purposes of robbing, using guns, beating the customers of the prostitutes. He urinates on his cell door and threatens to throw feces. He mocks and laughs at his arrest. He has a child. This 'man' is somebody's father. Where is there even one good person in this story? It might be argued that there are degrees of bad, a continuum of vile immorality in the story, but this is a sordid, disgusting bunch as described. I read someone's comment in the New York Times about America having lost its soul. Increasingly seems truer and truer.

JRFoucault wrote on October 12, 2017 at 10:10 am

I don't know about it losing its soul, but its rapidly running out of foundation--per the devaluation of the family. More than 70% of black children are raised in single parent households; more than 50% for Hispanics, and almost 30% for non-Hispanic whites. The negative consequences on one's proper development and potential for one's future when raised without a proper family foundation are manifold. These generations will mature and perpetuate the trend barring some revolutionary social change--which is highly unlikely to happen. There are just too many forces profiting from the chaos and disorder this wreaks on our society to reasonably expect any of it to change. Work on bettering yourself, and building and raising a solid family--that's where you can have meaningful impact.