Sunday, September 27, 2020
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Mattoon IL school shooter waives jury trial

An Illinois high school student accused of shooting a classmate last year has waived his right to a jury trial, the Associated Press reports.

The shooting occurred in the cafeteria of Mattoon High School in Coles County on September 20, when a 14-year-old boy allegedly discharged a firearm pointed at a girl. He didn’t hit his intended target but rather another student, causing that student to be hospitalized.

A teacher, identified in news reports as Angela McQueen, reportedly grabbed the arm of Josiah Lyons, who is now 15, as he fired his weapon. Authorities charged him with aggravated battery with a firearm. He’s in custody in a juvenile detention facility.

His right to a jury trial came about on July 6, when Coles County Circuit Judge Matt Sullivan made a blended juvenile and adult prison sentence possible. If he had not done this, juvenile offenders are typically only entitled to a trial by a judge.

An adult sentence for a 15-year-old boy may be unusual or at least rare, and one defense attorney argued that such a sentence would be a “travesty” given Lyons’s lack of a criminal record and diagnosed mental issues.

But, “It’s hard to imagine a more serious offense than a gun in school,” Judge Sullivan was quoted as saying when he made the blended sentence possible.

Mattoon Principal Rich Stuart commended agencies that responded to the shooting, including the Mattoon Police Department, Mattoon Fire Department, Lake Land College Police Department, Mitchell-Jerdan Ambulance Service, Coles-Moultrie 911, East Central Drug Task Force, Coles County Sheriff’s Office, Charleston Police Department, Eastern Illinois University Police Department, and Secretary of State Police.

“They were all there for us in our time of need,” he said. “Any ‘thank you’ should be personal and meaningful. Our kids and our staff are so appreciative of all the support and care that all of those agencies gave us that day.”

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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