URBANA — An Urbana man convicted of shooting a man in a robbery attempt last June faces up to 30 years in prison when he's sentenced next month.
A Champaign County jury deliberated about an hour Thursday before convicting Ardis Fenn, 23, of aggravated battery with a firearm for shooting Curtis Mosley, 29, in the leg and buttocks on June 12.
Judge Tom Difanis set sentencing for March 25 and revoked Fenn's bond.
Fenn has been identified as the man who shot and killed Mr. Mosley in his Urbana apartment on the night of Feb. 4, about an hour after Mr. Mosley refused to take a bribe to not testify against Fenn.
Fenn has not been criminally charged with the murder however, as Urbana police continue to investigate. Once he is, that means the state has 120 days to get him to trial. And since he won't be going anywhere for a while, there is no rush to file the charges.
Assistant State's Attorney Steve Ziegler argued to the eight men and four women hearing Fenn's case that the facts were "remarkably simple."
"Ardis Fenn and his accomplice, Gabriel Chaney, attempted to rob Curtis Mosley and Tommy Jackson. Ardis Fenn brought a .22-caliber rifle. At some point, Curtis Mosley decided to resist. He pushed Chaney away and pushed a picnic table toward them and ran. Mosley was shot twice from behind by the only person holding the .22," Ziegler said.
The shooting took place on the afternoon of June 12 at Above & Beyond Detailing, 708 E. Main St., U, where Mr. Mosley and Jackson were working. Fenn, who had been fired from the business, lived next door. Mr. Mosley and Jackson were the only people at the business at the time of the shooting, the owner having left to go to the store.
Ziegler said the evidence clearly established that Jackson and Mr. Mosley identified Fenn as the man who came from behind the business from the direction of Fenn's house with the gun and that Chaney patted down Mr. Mosley.
Mr. Mosley's statements to police were introduced through Urbana police investigator Matt Rivers, who interviewed him in June. The jury was told only that Mr. Mosley had died since June, not how or when he died.
Ziegler said the crime scene evidence supported what Jackson and Mr. Mosley said. Three shell casings from a .22-caliber rifle were found near where the men were when the shots were fired. Police found a trail of blood going to where Mr. Mosley ran to the nearby Auto Zone. And the day after the shooting, the barrel of a .22-caliber rifle was found in the trunk of Fenn's girlfriend's car at a home on Park Street.
The state crime lab could not say the shell casings came from that barrel but Ziegler said it would be a "big coincidence" for the barrel to end up where it did.
Fenn did not testify but his statement to police also came in through Rivers. Fenn told police that he and Chaney were on the east side of the business that day when an unidentified man who looked like him and was dressed like him approached with a sawed-off rifle. Without saying anything, Fenn said, the man smoked cannabis with them and began a dice game. Fenn told police that Mr. Mosley came over to watch the game.
"All of a sudden the unknown black male produced a rifle and started shooting," Rivers said, recounting Fenn's statement.
Ziegler called that version "fantastic — no, unbelievable."
"There was no mysterious fifth man. This is all made up in the head of Ardis Fenn," Ziegler said. "He's a bad liar."
Fenn's attorney, Assistant Public Defender Stephanie Corum, pointed out that in the bushes near where a bleeding Mr. Mosley was getting help at the Auto Zone, police found two small bags of cannabis. She reminded that he had cash in his shorts pocket and that Fenn's younger sister claimed that Mr. Mosley had offered to sell her cannabis earlier.
She also said neither Mr. Mosley nor Jackson immediately cooperated with police and that the state had not proven that the rifle barrel in Fenn's girlfriend's trunk was from the weapon that fired the shots that hit Mr. Mosley.
Ziegler countered that both men were scared and shaken in the immediate aftermath of the shooting and that their reactions were "logical." He scoffed at Corum's attempts to paint the victim as a drug dealer.
"Does he hide the cannabis? Probably. Are we going to damn Curtis Mosley and say it's okay to shoot Curtis Mosley because he possessed cannabis?" he asked.
He reiterated that Mr. Mosley and Jackson were clear about what happened.
"There is no other plausible version of what happened," Ziegler said.