Quincy man gets nine-year prison sentence for role in September 2023 stabbing in Blessing Hospital parking lot

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Heaton Brothers, right, sits next to attorney Dennis Woodworth in Adams County Circuit Court while looking at Tanner Bowen, foreground left, who Brothers struck and punched on Sept. 15, 2023, in the Blessing Hospital parking lot. | Pool photo by Mike Sorensen/Herald-Whig

QUINCY — One of two men charged in connection to a September 2023 stabbing in the parking lot at Blessing Hospital was sentenced Monday morning to nine years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Heaton Brothers, 20, of 1842 Maple, appeared in Adams County Circuit Court with attorney Dennis Woodworth for a status hearing before Judge Tad Brenner. He waived his right to a jury trial on March 8 and pled guilty on March 11 to attempted armed violence with a cap of nine years in prison. He is eligible for day-for-day sentencing. He was given credit for 227 days in the Adams County Jail, and he must pay $171,228.14 in restitution.

In a charging document filed in the Adams County Circuit Clerk’s office, Brothers, 19 years old at the time, committed attempted armed violence on Sept. 15, 2023, by striking and punching Tanner Bowen, allowing him to be stabbed by Dylan Test.

In exchange for the plea, the charges of attempted murder and armed violence — both Class X felonies — and aggravated battery would be dismissed. Had a jury found Brothers guilty of either Class X felony charge, he could have been sentenced for up to 30 years in prison. He faced between two and five years in prison on the aggravated battery charge.

Assistant State’s Attorney Josh Jones asked for Brenner to sentence Brothers to nine years. He argued that Brothers didn’t appear to be remorseful in his story about what happened on the night of the stabbing, and his report of what happened doesn’t match the report filed by the Quincy Police Department.

“Brothers talks about how he was attacked and fell to the ground, and then he doesn’t remember what happened,” Jones said. “The fact is Mr. Brothers and Mr. Test pinned the victim in between two cars. He may want to say that I’m not as responsible as Dylan Test, but Dylan Test couldn’t have swung that knife if Mr. Brothers hadn’t pinned the victim in.  That’s the facts of this case, Mr. Brothers is responsible — legally, morally and ethically — for what happened to the victim in this case.

“Then I read Mr. Brothers’ statement (in the pre-sentence investigation report), and what’s remarkable to me in that statement is, frankly, how self-interested he is. He talks about how he missed Christmas, how he missed the holidays, how he missed his birthday. Well, there sits the victim. He was stabbed multiple times. What about his Christmas? What about his family? What about his pain? What about his hospital bills? What about the fact that he almost died and, in fact, did die on the table before (doctors) brought him back? Not once in Mr. Brothers’ statement did I hear an apology. Not once in Mr. Brothers’ statement did I hear, ‘I’m sorry for what I did.’”

Jones said he believed that if, confronted with the same situation, Brothers would act in the same way.

Woodworth said Brothers has taken responsibility for his actions with his guilty plea. He asked for his client to be sentenced to probation.

“Mr. Brothers has some mental health issues — ADD (attention deficit disorder), depression and anxiety,” Woodworth said. “He’s now addressing those issues with medications that he’s been given while in the jail. At the time of the events, clearly Mr. Brothers was under the influence of alcohol. For a long time, Mr. Brothers has been raised by his grandmother. He has no father figure. He doesn’t know who his father is, which certainly affects how someone thinks and acts, someone who gets themselves into drugs and alcohol.”

Woodworth said Brothers didn’t know Test, who did the stabbing, had a knife that night.

“This is a situation where Mr. Brothers was drunk,” he said. “As he indicated in hindsight, he should not have confronted (Bowen). He should have just went into the hospital and did what he was supposed to do, which was take a friend in there to get treatment.”

“Mr. Brothers has had a history of experimenting with several types of drugs, even prescription drugs. We believe that probation is appropriate because it can make Mr. Brothers a productive member of society, which is what we need.”

Brothers apologized to Bowen and his family during his brief statement of allocution.

“I know I took part in what happened,” he said. “I’m sorry that affected you and injured you. I’m going to take the necessary steps to stay away from that kind of stuff. I’m going to be a productive member of society if given a chance.”

As he announced his sentence, Brenner said he believed Bowen would have likely been dead had he not been in a hospital parking lot.

“If (the knife wound) was just a fraction of a millimeter in a different direction, we would not be looking at a situation of a Class 1 felony. Instead, we’re looking at murder,” Brenner said. 

Brenner said the incident started with verbal attacks by Test and Brothers at Bowen and his girlfriend, followed by physical attacks by the two men “acting in concert.”

“Mr. Woodworth mentioned that Mr. Brothers took responsibility now,” Brenner said. “It’s kind of hard not to when it’s on video, and everyone can see precisely what happened.”

Brenner said a sentence to the Department of Corrections was necessary to serve as a deterrent for others from committing the same crime. Brenner noted Brothers has agreed to testify against Test, which he found “somewhat ironic since Mr. Brothers claims he doesn’t remember anything.”

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