URBANA — A 29-year-old man who was unwilling or unable to get help for his mental illness told a judge he was “disappointed” that he’d be spending the rest of his life in prison for killing two women.
“I don’t believe natural life is a good sentence for me, but I understand what laws are in effect,” Jonathon Perry told Judge Randy Rosenbaum.
And that was all he said about brutally snuffing out the lives of Kimberly Coyne, 54, and her daughter, Blair, 24, by fatally shooting them on March 29, 2020, at the rural St. Joseph home that they allowed the unemployed Perry to share with them.
“This was senseless. It was uncalled for. In the schemes of murder, this is about as bad as it gets,” Rosenbaum said as he imposed the only sentence the law allows for a person over 18 convicted of the first-degree murders of more than one person: life in prison without the possibility of parole.
In a hearing that lasted just under 30 minutes Thursday, State’s Attorney Julia Rietz recounted a portion of the sad facts of how the mother and daughter were slain by Perry, who used two different guns, each of which he dropped by the respective victims.
She called the evidence against Perry “overwhelming” and said the jury had no difficulty in rendering a “swift” verdict after hearing from 19 prosecution witnesses.
“In cold blood, he murdered two women who brought him into their home,” Rietz said, noting that Perry had previous convictions for driving under the influence, burglary and residential burglary and that he had passed on opportunities to get help for his substance-abuse and mental-health problems.
Assistant Public Defender Matt Ham asked the judge to consider Champaign psychiatrist Dr. Larry Jeckel’s evaluation of Perry, an analysis that did not rise to the level of an insanity defense, but which said mental illness has plagued him throughout his adulthood.
Ham asked Rosenbaum to declare Perry’s mental illness a factor in mitigation in the event the law should change in the future such that he might be considered for release.
Rosenbaum agreed to do that but said Perry had to be deterred, as do others who might be in similar dire straits and choose deadly violence over words to resolve arguments.
“We really don’t have a motive,” the judge said, other than evidence that Perry and Kimberly Coyne were arguing prior to him shooting her and her daughter reacting to that by fleeing the house without shoes or glasses, only to be shot outside in the driveway.
In the hallway outside the courtroom following the hearing, Bill Coyne of Ogden thanked Rietz and her staff for their work on behalf of his only daughter and his ex-wife.
“It’s been a long year,” he said.