DECATUR — A judge told a Decatur man Monday that the public needed to be protected from him before handing down a prison sentence of 4½ years.

Charles C. Deberry, 18, had pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of cocaine with intent to deliver and unlawful possession of a gun by a felon related to charges that dated to February. Deberry was actually sentenced to 4½ years on each charge, but Macon County Circuit Judge Thomas Griffith said the prison terms would run concurrently.

Griffith noted Deberry's young age in sentencing him but also pointed out that he had never held a job since being expelled from high school and had a racked up a criminal history that includes a previous weapons charge, possession of a stolen vehicle and attempted burglary.

Sworn police statements from his latest case said Deberry had been the passenger in a vehicle uniformed police had stopped at a car wash on West Eldorado Street after receiving a tip about a man armed with a gun.

A search of the vehicle had found a loaded 9 mm pistol with one live round in the chamber, police said. Next to the gun were more than 2 grams of cocaine in five tied “baggies.”

Police told Deberry he was under arrest and said he tried to pull away and escape as officers were securing him in handcuffs. Police said they stopped him by performing a “take down maneuver” that also resulted in one officer suffering an injury to his right knee.

Referring to the latest charges, Judge Griffith said he was concerned that the evidence showed Deberry had resisted a police officer and the offenses involved a volatile mix of illicit drugs and a firearm. Concluding there was a “substantial probability” of Deberry offending again, Griffith told him: “A sentence to the Illinois Department of Corrections is necessary to protect the public.”

Earlier, Deberry's public defender, Steve Perbix, argued that the defendant's prior criminal history was “not extensive,” and, because of his young age, he deserved a lesser prison sentence. Perbix suggested Deberry might be suitable for “impact incarceration,” a kind of military-style boot camp within the Department of Corrections that gives offenders the chance to significantly reduce their sentence.

But Assistant Macon County State's Attorney Jane Foster urged the judge to order Deberry to serve a six-year prison sentence, saying Deberry's behavior threatened the public with harm.

“He seems to want to possess firearms, and that is a danger to our community, especially when you mix it with other criminal activity, such as drugs,” she said.

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Staff Writer

Courts and public safety reporter for the Herald & Review.

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