Home Dice Decatur dice game killer fails in bid to have 45-year sentence reconsidered | public safety

Decatur dice game killer fails in bid to have 45-year sentence reconsidered | public safety

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DECATUR — Darion L. Evans, the teenage trigger in a Decatur dice game robbery that shot one woman and nearly killed another, failed Thursday in an attempt to have his 45-year sentence reconsidered.

Brought from jail to Macon County Circuit Court, hand and foot in chains, the 23-year-old defendant tried to argue that he didn’t deserve to spend so much time behind bars.

Presiding Judge Thomas Griffith, who sentenced him in November 2017, told Evans he would have had a good chance of seeing part of his sentence reduced following changes in case law following his conviction.

But more recent Illinois Supreme Court rulings had said such reconsideration was now not open to defendants who had entered into fully negotiated plea agreements like Evans, who was 16 at the time of the crime, l had done when he pleaded for murder.

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His defense attorney, Daniel Fultz, was called to testify on Thursday. He said he was facing a determined prosecutor who wanted a 25-year enhancement for the use of a firearm added to any sentence. Fultz said negotiation sessions between himself, the prosecutor and Griffith saw the judge also agree that the gun upgrade would not be reversed.

“…I didn’t want to plead a 16-year-old kid to a 45-year sentence,” Fultz recalled. “…But the evidence against him was so overwhelming that I didn’t think it would be a good idea to say we should go to court.”

Fultz declared without the plea agreement and, if found guilty by a jury, Evans was considering a minimum sentence of 76 years.

Chief public defender Michelle Sanders, representing Evans on Thursday, said she realized the weight of case law was now against her. But she argued that a young man who thought he was accepting the best offer did not deserve the punishment he received.

Assistant State’s Attorney Christina Mullison responded that regardless of the merits of Evans’ arguments or not, the Supreme Court’s rulings make it an open and closed case. “The fully negotiated plea must stand,” she said.

After Griffith said he had no choice but to accept and made up his mind not to blame Evans, Sanders informed the court that his client would appeal.

The victim in the case, Cesley Taylor, 21, was shot dead in a hail of bullets in her apartment on September 7, 2015. A second victim, Britney Wilson, was shot and seriously injured but survived.

Evans, the shooter, was part of a gang of four robbers. Among these, Shaitan L. Cook Jr. had been sentenced to 20 years in prison, Daiquan D. Cline had also been sentenced to 20 years while Ryan HJ O’Neal had received a 24-year sentence.

Contact Tony Reid at (217) 421-7977. Follow him on Twitter: @TonyJReid