2 more involved in attack on UI Quad to spend time in adult, juvenile prison

2 more involved in attack on UI Quad to spend time in adult, juvenile prison

URBANA — A 19-year-old and 13-year-old accused in the vicious mugging of a University of Illinois student near the Quad earlier this year have been sentenced to prison.

Isaiah Conley, 19, of Urbana, the oldest of the four accused in the attack and the only one to be charged as an adult, pleaded guilty Monday before Judge Roger Webber to attempted armed robbery and was sentenced to 12 years in prison. He had no prior convictions.

Meantime, on Tuesday, Judge Tom Difanis sentenced the youngest of the group, a 13-year-old from Urbana, to the Department of Juvenile Justice for 15 years or until his 21st birthday. He had also pleaded guilty in juvenile court to attempted armed robbery.

On Monday, Difanis sentenced a 16-year-old involved in the attack to juvenile prison. A fourth youth has also pleaded guilty to attempted armed robbery but is awaiting sentencing.

All have admitted taking part in a Jan. 7 attack on a male student who was walking alone about 5:40 p.m. between the Illini Union and Altgeld Hall. The four teens surrounded him, and one of the 16-year-olds hit him in the face with a brick.

State's Attorney Julia Rietz said the group's plan was to knock him out and rob him of cash so they could party. When the victim — whose cheekbone was broken — did not lose consciousness, the panicked teens ran without getting anything from him.

After the 13-year-old pleaded guilty in early February, Difanis allowed him to be released to his mother while he awaited sentencing.

But on March 6, Rietz said, the boy stole an Airsoft pellet gun from the Meijer in Urbana and posted pictures of himself on Instagram holding it as if it were a real weapon. She said he was having a dispute with another juvenile and was trying to intimidate him.

He pleaded guilty Tuesday to burglary in connection with that, admitting he entered Meijer intending to steal.

Rietz also had Champaign police Officer Austin Massey testify about a Dec. 13 incident in which the boy was detained after being found on an MTD bus with an pellet gun.

Massey said police had been called to Market Place Mall because concerned shoppers saw a young man wearing a mask talking to another young man about shooting someone in the children's play area. The witnesses saw one of the young men with what they believed was a gun.

With the help of a mall security officer, police learned that the boys had gotten on a bus, which was later stopped.

The youth involved in the Quad attack was identified as the one at the mall. He had the pellet gun and two credit cards believed to be stolen on him.

Assistant Public Defender Katie Jessup had the boy's father, who lives in Georgia, testify that he was willing to have his son live with him.

Rietz asked Difanis to sentence the boy to prison, calling the attack on the UI student "very serious." She called the mall victims "terrorized" at seeing someone with a gun.

Rietz said she respected the boy's father for his offer but said the child's issues "are far too significant to simply allow him to move away from them."

Jessup urged the judge to consider probation, given the boy's supportive family and his young age. She said his use of cannabis and willingness to follow others were among his weaknesses.

Difanis noted that the youth's "atrocious" behavior when he first entered detention in January improved over the weeks, which moved him to release the boy after his guilty plea.

But the judge said the boy's willingness to threaten someone with a realistic-looking pellet gun could result in tragic consequences to him.

"He runs the risk of someone deciding to get even and just shoot him," Difanis said, adding the boy's mother and father have tried to appropriately parent him, but "he has taken it upon himself to do everything he can to thwart their best efforts."

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GLG wrote on March 14, 2018 at 8:03 am

SA Reitz  and the judge can "Really" throw the book at them when they show back up in court in a couple of years and give them some adult probation!