Witness in man's federal trial describes 2016 Sprint store robbery

Witness in man's federal trial describes 2016 Sprint store robbery

URBANA — A witness in a Kankakee man's federal trial told the jury Tuesday that he was "angry" that he and his mother and two employees of a Champaign phone store were robbed at gunpoint two years ago.

Kasey Coleman, 25, of Champaign said he was about to leave the Sprint store to smoke a cigarette on July 28, 2016, when a man wearing mirrored sunglasses came in and stood behind Coleman's mom, who was talking to an employee.

"Something told me to stay in the store, so I stayed in the store," he said.

The next thing Coleman knew, he, his mother, and two employees were being directed at gunpoint to a rear room of the store at 2706 N. Prospect Ave. There, two men bound them with zip ties, then made off with Coleman's phone and 116 brand new cellphones, most of them iPhones.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Elly Peirson told the jury that the pair got into a waiting car driven by Randy Williams, 28, of Kankakee, who is being tried this week in Urbana for his role in the robbery.

The charge against him is interference with commerce by threat or violence, which alleges he aided and abetted others who stole cellphones and electronic devices from the Sprint store.

U.S. District Court Judge Colin Bruce is presiding over the trial, expected to go through Thursday.

Coleman told the jury that he and the two employees were ordered to lie on their bellies and had their hands bound behind them and their feet tied. After he interceded on behalf of his mother, the robbers allowed her to sit in a chair with her hands tied in front of her.

Coleman said once the men left — his mother testified that she could see through to the front window that they got in a Chevrolet Monte Carlo and took off — he broke his ties and untied the other three.

Champaign police Lt. Bruce Ramseyer testified that he was the first law-enforcement officer to arrive on the scene. He and a store employee quickly set about tracking Coleman's new iPhone with Apple's 'Find My Phone' app. They learned that the phone was in a car headed north on Interstate 57 and put out alerts to area police.

Sgt. Jaceson Yandell testified that an Illinois state trooper stopped a Monte Carlo on I-57 near Ashkum that Williams was driving and learned that there were only four or five phones inside it, including Coleman's.

"We knew there were a large quantity of phones stolen. We thought that there had to be a second car involved," he said.

In opening statements, Peirson said Williams was part of a team of five people who traveled to Champaign in two vehicles to rob the store. She said Williams was the driver of the Monte Carlo that the robbers initially got in before transferring to a sport utility vehicle, and during the switch, they left behind Coleman's phone, which Champaign police tracked to get to Williams.

Peirson said some of the other defendants are expected to testify, hoping for reduced sentences.

She said one man has not been found and three others have pleaded guilty; only one has been sentenced to date.

Williams is represented by Bloomington attorney David Rumley, who urged jurors to keep an open mind about what they will hear over the course of the trial.

Sections (2):News, Local