Two facing robbery charges in October shooting death accept plea for mob action, receive 18-month sentences
QUINCY — Robbery charges for a Quincy man and a Quincy woman in connection to the October shooting death of a teenage girl were dropped Friday afternoon as they accepted the terms of a negotiated plea that should allow both of them to be free by July.
Fallon M. Gillum, 21, and Tristian L. Johnson, 23, were in Adams County Circuit Court for a sentencing hearing before Judge Robert Adrian. Gillum’s attorney was special appointed public defender Casey Schnack of the Schnack Law Office. Johnson’s attorney was special appointed public defender Barney Bier, a former Adams County State’s Attorney.
Both agreed to plead guilty to mob action, a Class 4 felony, and accept an 18-month sentence in the Illinois Department of Corrections. The charging document said Johnson and Gillum “disturbed the public peace” while acting with Demarco P. Smith and six other juveniles who were identified only by their initials.
Some — but not all — of the juveniles have been arrested on warrants for conspiracy to commit armed robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery. Those arrested were lodged in the Adams County Juvenile Detention Center.
Gillum and Johnson are eligible to receive day-for-day credit. They both were credited with 86 days spent in the Adams County Jail. The sentencing range for a Class 4 felony is one to three years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.
Charges for conspiracy to commit armed robbery, a Class 1 felony; conspiracy to commit robbery, a Class 3 felony; attempted armed robbery, a Class 1 felony; and attempted robbery, a Class 3 felony, were all dismissed as part of the plea negotiations. Had a jury found them guilty of those crimes, Johnson and Gillum would have faced sentences for between four and 15 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections for the Class 1 felonies and sentences of between two and five in the Illinois DOC for the Class 3 felonies.
Neither Schnack, Bier or Assistant State’s Attorney Josh Jones made an argument during Friday’s hearing. Johnson declined to give a statement of allocution, but Gillum read from a piece of paper she had stuck in the pocket of her jail-issued uniform.
“Today, I stand to speak to you, and I’m feeling a lot of emotions,” she said. “I apologize for the choices made in regards to why I’m here today. I’ve had plenty of time to think (about) what’s been done and who I am and who I want to be. And I’m not what was written in black and white.
“I’m a mother. I’m a daughter. I’m a friend, a sister, and I’m a child of God. I pray for forgiveness and peace and contentment, for not just myself or for the situation (but for) everyone involved. And I’m truly sorry. I hold myself accountable.”
Jones previously said in court that Mackenzie Bullard, 16, was shot in the head and killed as the result of an armed robbery during which a group of adults and juveniles allegedly conspired to steal a gun. Bullard, a student in the Quincy School District, was found dead in the early morning of Oct. 11 in a home on the 400 block of Scenic Drive.
At the time of Gillum’s and Johnson’s arrests, Jones said a change in felony murder laws three years ago prevented him from filing murder charges.
“The person who causes the death has to be a participant in the felony,” Jones explained. “If somebody’s committing an armed robbery, and the victim of the armed robbery shoots back and kills someone … three years ago, a person who caused (another) person to shoot by committing the armed robbery would be responsible for the death morally and legally because their actions caused the homicide.
“Now under the law, we can’t charge anybody with a death in that circumstance. If somebody commits an armed robbery and the victim shoots the person who’s trying to attack him, and he misses and kills an innocent third party or somebody else, now nobody’s responsible for that.”
Jones said the Illinois legislature, which voted to change the law, did not listen to people who are actively involved in the “day-to-day administration of justice” or consult with anyone who’s actively involved in prosecution cases.
“We have multiple individuals who but for their actions, a 16-year-old girl would still be alive,” Jones said.
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