amari robinson

Amari Robinson is shown via video at her arraignment on first-degree murder charges Wednesday at the Champaign County Courthouse in Urbana.

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URBANA — A 17-year-old female accused of fatally shooting a man in Champaign last fall could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted.

Judge Roger Webber on Wednesday arraigned Amari Robinson, who listed an address on Joanne Lane, Champaign, on five counts of first-degree murder, four of which allege that she personally fired a gun that caused the death of Martin Morrow on Oct. 8.

If convicted of murder, she faces 20 to 60 years in prison, but if the jury agrees that she personally fired the gun, that adds an extra 25 years to the sentencing range.

Mr. Morrow, 29, of Urbana was found dead of multiple gunshot wounds about 2 a.m. that Thursday in the middle of the 3000 block of West William Street near Duncan Road in Champaign.

Assistant State’s Attorney Kristin Alferink told the judge that Mr. Morrow had been shot in the chest and shoulder. The state crime lab determined that some of the bullets in him and casings nearby were traced to a gun that was connected to a Joliet case in which Robinson was involved.

Alferink said Mr. Morrow had been with Robinson and others at his girlfriend’s home in west Champaign prior to the shooting and that a group convinced him to join them in committing a robbery.

He agreed and went outside with them, only to be shot moments later.

Alferink said Champaign police were able to determine from Robinson’s phone that she had been in the vicinity of the shooting when it occurred.

Judge Sam Limentato earlier issued a warrant for her arrest with a $1 million bond. Alferink said when police stopped a vehicle she was in Saturday in Joliet to arrest her on the murder charges, Robinson had a revolver in her waistband.

Robinson asked for the appointment of a public defender on the new charges. She is currently represented by that office in two juvenile cases in which she’s charged with domestic battery and possession of a stolen vehicle.

Because she’s charged with first-degree murder, she’s being tried as an adult.

Assistant Public Defender Lindsey Yanchus asked Webber to lower Robinson’s bond. Yanchus said Robinson has lived locally for several years, although Alferink said she also has ties to Joliet.

Yanchus said Robinson works locally at a fast-food restaurant, attends school at The Pavilion and has “several mental-health diagnoses.” She said Robinson is working toward re-admission to Central High School and has good family support in the area. At least four older female relatives, including her mother, were in court for Robinson’s arraignment.

Yanchus said Robinson wanted to have a probable-cause hearing in the new case, which Webber set for June 22.

The judge declined to reduce her bond. Although Robinson is being tried as an adult, she will remain in the Juvenile Detention Center. Those held in the county jail must be at least 18 years old.


Mary Schenk is a reporter covering police, courts and breaking news at The News-Gazette. Her email is, and you can follow her on Twitter (@schenk).

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