URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — As two teenagers confront murder charges and a steep bond in the shooting death of a ride-proportion driver this week, authorities revealed Friday that they are searching for a third person who was in the means.
The two suspects were arraigned Friday, appearing by video from the Champaign County Juvenile Detention Center. State’s Attorney Julia Rietz is pursuing the situations in adult court due to the serious character of the charges. The move to adult court method a decades-long stay in prison if convicted. A juvenile adjudication method a stay in juvenile prison until age 21.
Sixteen year-old Na’Shown Fenderson and 17 year-old Jahiem Dyer, both of Champaign, are charged with four counts each of first degree murder in the death of 29 year-old Kristian Philpotts of Chicago. Those charges typically bring a sentencing range of 20 to 60 years in prison, but since a gun was allegedly used, the law allows for 20 years to be additional, making the range 45 to 85 years.
estimate Brett Olmstead set bond for both suspects at $3 million, going above Rietz’s recommendation of $2 million. That method the suspects will have to come up with $300,000 each to get out of jail while the case continues. Both on Friday did not go into a not guilty plea and opted to go back to court on February 2 for preliminary hearings. That’s where prosecutors will present an outline of the evidence to convince a estimate there’s enough cause to move forward. That typically happens, and if it does here, pretrial hearings would be held on March 8.
Dyer’s arraignment Friday took longer than usual, as the teen used a hearing aid and a sign language interpreter to understand estimate Olmstead’s instructions.
Rietz on Friday summarized much of the same evidence that will be presented at the preliminary hearing. She said on the night of January 12, Urbana police were called to the area of Vine Street and Burkwood Court West for a person, later identified as Philpotts, lying in the road. Officers found the victim with no pulse, and he was taken to Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana, where he was distinct dead.
Police later learned Philpotts was working as a Lyft driver that night. He was driving a Jeep rented by a program with Lyft and Hertz. Rietz said the two charged suspects and a third speculate who authorities are not naming requested a Lyft ride starting at Fenderson’s address and got in Philpotts’ means. Rietz said police believe the suspects tried to get the victim to take a different route to a secluded place so they could rob the man. When the means was in excursion at Vine Street and Pennsylvania method in Urbana, one of the suspects fired a gun. Rietz said the bullet entered Philpotts’ back at his upper right shoulder and lodged in the left side of his abdomen. The means then crashed into a parked truck, and the suspects bailed out and ran.
Rietz said the suspects – Fenderson and Dyer in one group and the third speculate solo – went knocking on doors to use a phone and position a ride out of the area. Fenderson and Dyer were ultimately arrested, while Rietz said the third speculate was caught on a Ring doorbell camera, and police were able to clarify him that way.
Fenderson and Dyer were represented in court Friday by assistant public defender Titus Spitsbergen.
Philpotts was looking to become a veterinarian, according to people who knew him. He graduated from Illinois State University in 2016 and was featured in a 2015 ISU Facebook post about observing surgery of tigers. “This experience was hands down one of the best experiences I have had here at ISU in addition as in my life in general,” Philpotts said at the time. ISU spokesperson Eric Jome called the man’s death a “tragic story.”
Philpotts attended Eastern Illinois University from 2016 to 2018. Rietz said the man was looking to get into the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine.
In a statement, Lyft told our newsroom, “We are heartbroken by this tragedy and our thoughts are with Kristian’s friends and family during this incredibly difficult time. We’ve attempted to reach his loved ones to offer our sustain and stand ready to assist law enforcement in any way we can.”
Lyft also highlighted steps it takes to keep drivers safe. The platform allows drivers to request emergency help by the security company ADT with a quick touch by the app. The app also checks in with drivers if they are stopped for a long time. Lyft said its staffers are on call 24/7 to talk to drivers. Lyft’s statement also said, “In certain markets, we’re working to proactively detect and take action against accounts we believe may characterize high-risk rider behavior, including those using anonymous payment methods.”
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