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DECATUR - A 17-year-old man received a 20-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to first degree murder in the Aug. 2009 stomping death of a 61-year-old man.

Branden J. White, who has been held in custody since his arrest on Sept. 3, 2009, was sentenced for his role in the beating of Jerry Newingham, who was killed in Aug. 2009 when a group of teens attacked him and stomped on his head.

White will serve 100 percent of his sentence, according to sentencing guidelines for murder convictions. He will be eligible for parole in 2029.

Four of the other defendants are scheduled to be tried on June 27. Those defendants - who will range in age from 15 to 18 years old on that date - will all be tried as adults.

One of the six defendants charged with first degree murder - who prosecutors believe did not physically take part in the attack - is expected to testify as a witness for the prosecution.

White appeared in the courtroom of Associate Judge Timothy Steadman Monday morning, accompanied by his attorney, Macon County Assistant Public Defender Monica Hawkins.

Family members of Jerry Newingham were in the courtroom during the hearing.

Under questioning from Assistant State's Attorney Nichole Owens, White said he was present at the attack on Newhingham, which occurred at about 4 p.m. Aug. 24, on the 500 block of West Sawyer Street.

White said he observed Deonta Johnson, Elliott Murphy and Fredrick Rhone attack the victim. He also saw Murphy stomping on the victim's head.

White said he saw that the victim was badly injured and not moving at the time of the attack. He later heard Murphy bragging about stomping on the victim's head.

After the incident, White said he discarded the shirt he was wearing, a brightly colored polo shirt that was easily recognizable, in order to avoid being recognized by witnesses.

White also admitted that he was present at the robbery and attack of Kevin Wilson, 46, which occurred about 70 minutes later in Garfield Park.

Wilson was seriously injured, but has recovered. He has no memory of the attack.

White said he saw Murphy jump on Wilson's head with both feet. He later saw Murphy wiping blood off his shoes with a towel.

He said Deonta Johnson and the Rhone brothers, Fredrick and Dedrick, all took part in Wilson's beating. White observed that Wilson was badly injured and not moving during and after the attack.

White testified that the teens were all smoking marijuana before and after the attack.

White will begin serving his sentence in the Illinois Department of Corrections immediately.


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