URBANA — A Hoopeston man who struck a disabled older man for whom he was a paid caretaker has been sentenced to two years of probation and three months in the county jail.
Reese L. Billot, 44, pleaded guilty in late October to aggravated battery, admitting that he struck a man in the face May 31 while working at a Rantoul assisted-living facility for seniors with intellectual disabilities.
Through testimony from former Rantoul police Officer Skyler Sieving, Judge Roger Webber learned that the victim has Down syndrome and is deaf. His age was not given, but Assistant State's Attorney Scott Larson said most of the people in the home are elderly.
Sieving testified that Billot apparently showed up for work on May 30 under the influence of a combination of his own prescription medication and that of another person's, which resulted in him sleeping through most of his shift. In the morning, when he woke and was supposed to be feeding the three people assigned to him, he became upset, slapped the older man in the face and knocked away a bowl of cereal that another elderly resident had prepared for the man.
Sieving said an older woman whom Billot was supposed to be caring for that night was found covered in her own urine, and all three people assigned to him didn't get their medication.
On cross-examination by Assistant Public Defender Tony Allegretti, Sieving said the man who was slapped had a red, slightly swollen face but did not have to go to the hospital.
Allegretti also gave the judge letters of support from Billot's mother and girlfriend.
Larson argued for a prison term for Billot, who had no prior criminal convictions.
"We have to be able to trust the caretakers ... and there has to be serious consequences when they violate that trust," Larson argued, urging the judge to send a message of deterrence.
But Allegretti urged the judge to consider probation. He conceded there was no excuse for Billot to take someone else's prescription medicine, but he said it resulted in a one-time occurrence that he called a "serious mistake and an error on his part."
Webber said he couldn't be certain Billot might not repeat the behavior, which he said threatened serious harm to the victim and the other residents in his care. But he said he was willing to take a chance.
In addition to the two years of probation, Webber sentenced Billot to 180 days in jail for which he can get day-for-day good time and 50 hours of public service and ordered him to get a substance-abuse evaluation and treatment if necessary.
He also ordered him to repay the county $200 for the services of his public defender.