Seven years in juvenile prison for 14-year-old who stole guns from Rural King

Seven years in juvenile prison for 14-year-old who stole guns from Rural King

URBANA — A third young man from Rantoul who admitted he stole guns from a Rantoul store has been sentenced to seven years in juvenile prison.

Despite the 14-year-old's declaration that he was ready to change, Judge Heidi Ladd said he hadn't done enough in the last few months to prove that.

The youth pleaded guilty in early January to possession of a stolen firearm, admitting that he had guns that were stolen during a Nov. 21 burglary to the Rantoul Rural King at 1700 E. Grove Ave.

A 15-year-old with him and an adult, Henry Boykins, 24, also of Rantoul, each received the same sentence.

The other teen pleaded guilty to the same crime before Ladd and was sentenced in early January.

Judge Tom Difanis accepted Boykins' guilty pleas last week to the burglary of the Rantoul Rural King and the burglary that same day of the Rural King at 913 W. Marketview Drive, C.

The trio got in the Champaign store but left without guns when they heard voices and ran. They then headed to Rantoul, where they were successful at stealing two long guns off a display rack before leaving in a vehicle that had been stolen earlier that day in Rantoul.

They were caught as they left Rantoul in the stolen vehicle.

The youth sentenced Thursday was on parole for an aggravated battery adjudication at the time of his arrest for the gun theft.

His mother testified that she planned to move to a new community with him to give him a fresh start.

"He has told me so many times he doesn't want this life," she told the judge.

Assistant State's Attorney Sarah Perry recommended a prison sentence while Public Defender Janie Miller-Jones urged the judge to consider probation, calling it a much better use of resources for the youth.

"He is not a lost cause. He is 14," Miller-Jones said.

Ladd agreed that the boy had potential but had done little to demonstrate that, citing problems he had while in the Juvenile Detention Center as recently as last month. Those included arguing with staff, flooding his room, making sexually inappropriate comments, and getting in a fight with another youth that resulted in a pregnant JDC staff member being hit in the abdomen.

Ladd said the trio's plan to steal guns was "premeditated" and constituted a "recipe for disaster."

Ladd applauded his mother's efforts but observed: "He's making his own choices at this point."

The teen cannot be held in the Department of Juvenile Justice past his 21st birthday, and with good behavior is likely to be released much sooner.

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