URBANA — An Urbana man who testified for the state against two men accused of the murder of a Champaign man faces up to 15 years in prison when he is sentenced next month for aggravated robbery.
Qwantrell Ayers, 22, who also goes by Quantrell Ayers and whose last known address was in the 400 block of South Dodson Drive, Urbana, pleaded guilty Friday before Champaign County Judge Heidi Ladd to a robbery that occurred more than two years ago.
Ayers admitted that on April 1, 2010, he took part in robbing a Champaign man of about $1,700 cash in south Urbana. On that night, Ayers and two other men, including Jerry Jackson, 21, of Champaign, who was fatally shot in an April 22 home invasion in Urbana, took the man to an area on South Race, forced him out of the car at gunpoint and robbed him of $1,700 cash and two cell phones.
The aggravated robbery charge alleges that Ayers merely implied that he had a gun.
Ladd will sentence Ayers on July 11 for that crime. He faces penalties ranging from probation to up to 15 years in prison.
In return for his plea, Assistant State's Attorney Dan Clifton has agreed to dismiss several other felony charges against Ayers in connection with a string of violent crimes that occurred in April 2010 and another with which he was charged in November 2009.
The charges to be dismissed include:
— Armed robbery for the April 1, 2010, holdup of the man on South Race Street.
— Robbery and aggravated battery with a weapon in connection with an April 17, 2010, attack on a man who was hit in the head with a brick and robbed of cash in the 600 block of South Broadway Avenue, Urbana.
— Four counts of home invasion in connection with an April 22, 2010, incident in the 2200 block of Prairie Green in Urbana. In that case, Ayers was accused of firing a gun in an apartment of a man whom Ayers and two other men intended to rob. Mr. Jackson was fatally shot when the intended robbery victim chased him and fired on him.
— Resisting a peace officer and aggravated fleeing from a Nov. 9, 2009, incident that happened in Champaign.
Clifton said he agreed to dismiss those charges in return for Ayers' testimony against two men who had been charged with the December 2008 first-degree murder of James Ellis, 34, who was fatally shot in a garage turned into an apartment on Joanne Lane in Champaign.
One of those men, Demarco Taylor, 21, of Urbana, was convicted of the murder and is serving a 40-year prison sentence.
The other, Tyrone Franklin, 20, of Urbana, was tried twice for the murder. His first trial in December ended in a hung jury but he was acquitted of the murder in a retrial in March of this year.
A third man charged in that murder, Laniel Bradley, 23, of Urbana, pleaded guilty to less serious weapons violation and was sentenced to four years in prison.
Clifton noted that Ayers has been in police custody for more than two years. For a portion of his incarceration he was considered unfit for trial and housed in a mental health treatment center in Chester.