URBANA — Two more men involved in a January carjacking and armed robbery in Urbana have pleaded guilty to a lesser charge in Champaign County Circuit Court — one for a prison term and the other to be sentenced next month.
William Ayres, 22, of the 2500 block of Prairie Green, Urbana, pleaded guilty Monday before Judge Heidi Ladd to aggravated robbery, admitting that on Jan. 12, while armed with a dangerous weapon, he robbed two men of cash, a cellphone and a pickup truck. The holdup and subsequent beatings of the victims, ages 29 and 39, took place about 3 a.m. in the 1600 block of Hunter Street in Urbana.
Ayres was sentenced to eight years in prison. Assistant State's Attorney Dan Clifton said he had prior criminal convictions as an adult for domestic battery, obstructing justice, and possession of weapon by a felon. He also had a juvenile adjudication for aggravated battery.
A few hours after Ayres entered his guilty plea, co-defendant Herbert Shah changed his mind about wanting a jury to hear his case and pleaded guilty to the same count before Ladd. She will sentence him on July 22.
In exchange for their pleas, more serious charges of armed robbery and aggravated vehicular hijacking were dismissed.
On Friday, three other men in the same case — Robert Grady, Andrew Bell and Zachary Gray — also entered pleas to lesser charges.
Clifton said the victims were approached as they sat in their truck and were ordered or dragged out of the truck at gunpoint and beaten and robbed by a group of men. One man was being hit on one side of the truck while the other was on the other side of the truck.
"They all planned and executed it together so they are all accountable," said Clifton, adding that a BB gun was used to shoot out the window of the truck.
The plea to aggravated robbery stemmed from the fact that the victims saw only the BB gun, not a real gun, he said.
After the men were arrested at an address on Hunter Street, police searched the residence and found two handguns that had been stolen in early September from the Rural King store in Champaign.