URBANA — A man who admitted his role in the murder of a Champaign man almost two years ago faces up to 35 years in prison when sentenced next month.
Ryan Mason, 32, of Champaign pleaded guilty Monday before Judge Roger Webber to being accountable for the actions of another man who was convicted of fatally bayoneting and shooting Trenton Jones, 27, inside an Urbana home on Dec. 20, 2021.
Two weeks ago, a Champaign County jury heard Mason testify about the part he played in Mr. Jones’ death with now-convicted murderer Erion Davis-Murdock, 25.
In exchange for Mason’s testimony against Davis-Murdock, Assistant State’s Attorney Troy Lozar agreed to allow Mason to plead guilty to a charge of murder that said he was accountable for Davis-Murdock fatally stabbing Mr. Jones in return for a promise that the prosecutor would seek no more than 35 years in prison for Mason.
Of the five co-defendants charged in connection with the brutal killing that happened inside a house on Division Avenue, only Davis-Murdock was convicted by a jury.
He faces the full range of penalties of 45 years to life because the jury found that he used a gun to kill Mr. Jones as well as the rifle’s bayonet. A forensic pathologist said both the stab wound and the gunshot to Mr. Jones killed him.
The personal discharge of a gun during a murder ratchets up the penalties from the normal range of 20 to 60 years. Whatever sentence Mason receives from Webber, he will have to serve 100 percent of it.
Davis-Murdock is set to be sentenced Nov. 6; Mason’s sentence is set for Nov. 9.
Mason testified that he was following along with a plan cooked up by Davis-Murdock in which their respective girlfriends lured Mr. Jones to the Division Avenue house with a promise of having sex with him. Davis-Murdock and Mason then rushed into the house, intending to rob him.
When he resisted their efforts to grab cash from his pocket, the incident turned even more violent, with Davis-Murdock stabbing him in the chest with the bayonet. Mr. Jones then ran to an upstairs bedroom and was crouched in a closet when Mason and Davis-Murdock both fired in his direction. Mason’s shot did not hit him.
The women charged — Shaniquh Johns, 31, and Kareasha Alston, 29 — both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery for sentences of probation. Davis-Murdock’s brother, Jaquan Shorter, 24, pleaded guilty obstructing justice for lying to police about exactly what happened and was also sentenced to probation.
Shorter, who was not involved in the killing, gave rides to the other four defendants that day.