In an emotional sentencing, a judge on Monday rejected a plea agreement and gave a Cahokia man 22 years in prison for breaking into an elderly man’s home and shooting him in the leg.
Ceonta Jackson, 23, was accused — along with two other men— of breaking into 86-year-old Henry Wicker’s Cahokia home on July 26, 2016, where they shot him in the knee and robbed the man before leaving him injured and alone for hours afterward.
While one of the other men, Teondre Foughter, was found guilty of providing the gun, Jackson pleaded guilty to aggravated battery for actually pulling the trigger.
During Monday’s sentencing, Jackson made a statement to the judge. About 10 of his family members were sitting in the room, some of whom were crying.
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“Have mercy on me not just for me, but also for my nieces, nephews, siblings and family,” he said. “I promise this is the last time I will be in front of you in this courtroom.”
Jackson apologized to Wicker and Wicker’s family, as well as his own family and friends.
“But most of all, I owe myself an apology,” he said. “I let myself down.”
Jackson’s sister, Nakesha Jackson, also made a statement to the judge.
He’s a good guy who went astray.
Defense attorney Tom Philo
“I know everyone’s looking at this case and feeling like he should be put away, but he’s my brother; he’s not a bad person. He just got caught up in bad stuff,” she said through tears. “Don’t take him away from us for a long time.”
She said in August 2016, a month before Jackson was arrested, her brother told her he wanted to get his GED and “basically get his life right.”
Jackson’s defense attorney, Tom Philo, said Jackson is a good candidate for rehabilitation due to his supportive family, his good attitude and his remorse for his actions.
“This was a terrible thing, but it was not characteristic of him or the way he acts,” Philo said. “He’s a good guy who went astray.”
Philo and Prosecutor John Trippi reached a plea agreement Sept. 1 calling for Jackson to be sentenced to 15 years.
Judge Robert Haida, however, rejected the agreement and instead gave him 22 years, of which he is required to serve at least 85 percent.
“You entered an 86-year-old man’s home where he lived for 50 to 60 years. For 50 years, he cared for the home; he paid for the home. It was the only thing he had left,” Haida said.
“And then beyond that, you shot him. You didn’t have to do that. It was bad enough. I cannot agree that 15 years is an appropriate sentence. I cannot agree. I do not agree.”
After Haida announced the sentence, many of Jackson’s family members started crying.
I cannot agree that 15 years is an appropriate sentence. I cannot agree. I do not agree.
Judge Robert Haida
Haida allowed Jackson’s mother and grandmother to hug him before he was taken out of the courtroom. Many of the other family members asked if they could hug him as well, but they were motioned out of the courtroom by the bailiff.
Trippi also presented a victim-impact statement to the judge, describing how Wicker and his family have been affected by the crime.
Haida said before he was shot, Wicker was able to live independently. Now, however, Wicker has to live in a nursing home and is still recovering.
On Sept. 26, Teondre Foughter was sentenced to 15 years after reaching an agreement with prosecutors. He pleaded guilty to aggravated battery of a firearm in connection to the home invasion.
Aaron Samuel, who was also involved in the break-in, was sentenced in July to serve 12 years in prison, of which he is also required to serve at least 85 percent.