DECATUR - Three teenage males were arraigned Monday in Macon County Circuit Court on charges of first-degree murder and attempted murder in two Aug. 24 beatings that resulted in severe injury to Kevin S. Wilson, 46, and the death Sept. 5 of Jerry Newingham, 61.
Elliott T. Murphy, 16, Malcolm S. Spence, 16, and Brandon J. White, 15, appeared before Associate Judge James Coryell, who read the charges to them. The murder charges automatically caused their cases to be transferred to adult court from juvenile court.
They and twins Dedrick A. Rhone and Frederick A. Rhone, 16, are charged with four counts of first-degree murder in Newingham's death, as well as one count each of attempted murder, aggravated battery and robbery in the beating of Wilson, who police say could be permanently disabled. All five teens also are charged with two counts of felony mob action relating to the attacks on Newingham and Wilson.
Preliminary hearings for all five boys to determine if there is probable cause to hold them for trial are scheduled for Wednesday. They are detained under $1 million bond each at juvenile detention facilities in Central Illinois, with the exception of Spence, who was remanded Monday to the custody of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Corrections. That agency is holding him at its Harrisburg facility for a parole violation triggered by his arrest on the new charges.
Coryell appointed the public defender to represent the three teens who appeared Monday, despite Spence stating his mother had spoken with a private attorney and paid a retainer for his services. He could not name the attorney, and Coryell said a substitution of counsel could be made later.
Newingham was riding his bicycle in the 500 block of West Sawyer Street and headed home about 4 p.m. Aug. 24, when a group of eight teenage males spotted him, according to a sworn statement filed in court by Decatur police detective Barry Hitchens.
A witness stated the boys claimed to be "tipsy" and were playing a game called "point 'em out, knock 'em out" in which a person was selected and then one of the group would attack that individual and try to knock the victim out, Hitchens said.
The witness initially was with the group but left it for a few minutes, Hitchens said. Upon his return, Newingham had been battered and group members were running away, but the witness joined up with the group again near Olive and Union streets, he said.
The witness alleged Murphy made statements about the blood on his white Nike athletic shoes being from stomping on the victim's head 30 times, and White allegedly stated he had stomped the man, too, Hitchens said. The witness stated that the boys made comments about playing the "point 'em out, knock 'em out" game, he said.
The group split up again because of police presence in the area but reassembled at Edward and Union streets and walked down Walnut Grove Avenue to Garfield Park, according to the witness. Hitchens said the witness stated they found Wilson seated at a table in the park pavilion, and as that man got up to leave, Murphy punched him in the face, knocking him out. The witness claimed Murphy and the Rhone brothers then "stomped" Wilson, Hitchens said. A second witness, who also had been with the group, told substantially the same story, adding that two group members were smashing pop cans on Wilson's head, he said.
The witness stated that Wilson got up and walked around a table in the pavilion and then was punched in the head by Spence, fell to the ground and again was stomped by at least four of the boys, Hitchens said. The witness identified Murphy as having jumped on Wilson's face twice with both feet and stated White and Spence kicked Wilson in the stomach several times, he said.
White then searched Wilson's pockets and possibly his wallet, according to the witness. The boys fled in different directions as a van approached.