URBANA — A Montgomery man who murdered an acquaintance during a botched robbery more than three years ago in north Champaign has been sentenced to 60 years in prison.
Micheal Chatman was 18 when he killed Ricky Green, 18, of Urbana, while trying to rob him of a gun March 23, 2018, at the Shadowwood Mobile Home Park.
Judge Randy Rosenbaum imposed 35 years on Chatman for Mr. Green’s murder and an additional required 25 years because Chatman personally fired the gun that killed him.
“I think the 25 years to life add-on is ridiculous, but as a judge, I have to follow the law,” said Rosenbaum, a former public defender. “I don’t think it deters anybody.”
Although the law dictates that Chatman, now 21, must serve 100 percent of his sentence, recently enacted legislation allows him to seek parole after 20 years because he was over 18 but under 21 at the time of the killing.
He was given credit for one year and 10 months already served in the county jail.
The sentence was five years less than Assistant State’s Attorney Kristin Alferink sought for Chatman, who she argued has “serious anger issues.”
To aggravate his sentence, she had police testify about previous situations in which Chatman had outbursts involving a girlfriend and his mother, and threats he made to harm two different attorneys who represented him prior to Champaign lawyer Kevin Nolan being appointed.
Alferink also had Champaign police Detective Jeremiah Christian testify about Facebook pictures posted in March 2018 — prior to Mr. Green’s killing — on Chatman’s accounts that showed him with cannabis and guns.
Nolan argued Chatman should get no more than 30 years, a sentence he acknowledged an appellate court would reject because it didn’t fall within the range of 45 years to life. But he based his argument on case law that said anything over 40 years for a juvenile convicted of murder is tantamount to a life sentence.
The fact that his client was only four months beyond his 18th birthday did not make him an adult, Nolan argued. In support, he gave Rosenbaum records from the Urbana school district that detailed the individualized educational plan set up for Chatman because a psychologist declared him disabled both emotionally and in his ability to learn.
“This disabled youth was a disabled young man when he turned 18,” Nolan said. “The records tell the tale of a lack of support and supervision outside the school. The state says ‘anger issues.’ The psychologists call it ‘disabled.’”
Chatman, who claimed self-defense at trial, declined to say anything when given the opportunity.
Rosenbaum conceded Nolan’s point that the brain of an 18-year-old is hardly more developed than that of a 17-year-old.
“But he is an adult, and any argument that he should be treated as a juvenile who should get 40 years is misplaced,” the judge said.
“Although the Legislature gets a lot of things wrong, sometimes they try to do the best they can,” he said, referring to the new law that allows the possibility of parole after 20 years.
Rosenbaum reviewed Chatman’s multiple convictions for theft as a juvenile, his diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, his use of cannabis since age 9 and alcohol since 12, and his use of Ecstasy on the night of Mr. Green’s murder.
He also noted that the trial testimony established that Chatman “was significantly a planner and the actual shooter.”
Co-defendant Michael Simmons, 24, in custody since February 2020, is due back in court for pretrial motions in his case later this month.
The judge said he is also mandated to try to deter Chatman and others.
“Young people who play with guns. It is serious. It’s a national epidemic. It’s a local epidemic,” he said. “The age of the people getting arrested is getting younger and younger. The message has to be: Don’t do this. Don’t use a gun.”