URBANA — A recent University of Illinois graduate testified Tuesday in a Champaign County armed robbery trial that April 12 marked the first and the last time he had ever won so big while gambling at an East Peoria casino.
Sean Harrigan, 23, said he had $23,000 in winnings in the glove box of his car when he and two friends returned to his apartment at 512 S. Third St., C, about 6 a.m. that day. His friends got out of the passenger side first as he leaned over to retrieve his loot.
"I had it in my hand. I opened the door and was one foot out and saw a man walking toward me," Harrigan told the jury hearing the armed robbery case of Marvino Mister, one of two men accused of robbing him of a portion of his winnings.
Harrigan said he noticed the quick pace of the man in the poorly lit garage.
"He was walking right at us. I sat on the money. I put it behind me. He produced a gun and he started pointing the gun and asking for the money," Harrigan said.
Harrigan said the man held a silver revolver about an inch from his head as he made repeated demands for the money. He also threatened the other two men with the gun as they stood outside the car with their hands up.
After initially denying that he had any cash, when the robber told him he would start shooting, Harrigan handed over his phone, casino card and about $2,500 from his pants pocket. A car entered the deck about that time and the robber jogged off toward it with the loot. Harrigan and his two friends quickly retreated into his apartment, where they called Champaign police to report what had just happened.
The victims did not see where the robber went.
After learning that Harrigan had been at the same craps table for about eight hours on April 11 and 12, police immediately went to work obtaining surveillance video from the Par-A-Dice casino. It focused on two men: Mister, 24, and co-defendant John Williamson, 28, both of Peoria and both on parole. They were arrested about a week after the holdup.
Harrigan picked Mister out of a photo lineup, saying he was 80 percent to 85 percent certain Mister was the man who robbed him.
Harrigan and one of the friends with him, Aman Agarwal, testified that neither of them noticed anyone following them home on Interstate 74 nor did they recognize the car that pulled in the parking garage. Both gave descriptions of the robber.
Jurors were shown more than an hour's worth of surveillance videotape that showed Mister and Williamson in and around the craps table where Harrigan was all night. It also showed the two men getting in and out of a car in the parking lot, which took off not long after Harrigan drove away in his car.
Assistant State's Attorney Lindsey Clark said in opening statements that she intended to present other testimony Wednesday about how police used technology to determine that Williamson was in Champaign making several calls on his cellphone moments before the robbery.
Mister's attorney, Harvey Welch of Urbana, said there would be no dispute that Mister was at the casino but that the state would be unable to prove that he was the man who robbed Harrigan.
Judge Tom Difanis is hearing Mister's case. The jury was expected to begin deliberations some time Wednesday.
Williamson's case is unresolved. He is due back in court Dec. 18.