A 17-year-old Royal Lake male was sentenced in Bond County Circuit Court last Friday for his involvement in the April 26 shooting death of Javarey Williams, age 16.
Cortez Burgess previously pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter and obstructing justice.
As part of the plea arrangement, the state dismissed a charge of concealment of a homicidal death.
At the end of the hour and a half sentencing hearing, Circuit Court Judge Christopher Bauer sentenced Burgess to an indeterminate term in the Department of Juvenile Justice on the involuntary manslaughter charge. The maximum time will be the defendant’s 21st birthday. He was also placed on 41 months’ probation for obstruction of justice.
Judge Bauer advised the state had previously requested extended juvenile prosecution, which was approved by the court. Because of that, Burgess was also sentenced as an adult for four years in the Illinois Department of Corrections for involuntary manslaughter and two years in state prison for obstructing justice.
Judge Bauer explained to Burgess that the adult terms will become effective only if he violates his juvenile sentence after turning 18. A case review has been scheduled for December of 2022 and if the defendant has successfully completed his juvenile sentence, the adult one will be revoked.
The shooting occurred in a house in Royal Lake. Burgess was charged with allegedly acting in a reckless manner which led to the discharge of a firearm in the presence of Williams, causing Williams to be shot and killed.
The obstruction charge alleged Burgess knowingly planted false evidence by placing the handgun next to Williams’ body to make it appear the victim shot himself.
Burgess’ attorney Judy Steele stated in court the two boys found the gun in the house the day before. The next day the gun was out again when Williams started, walking to turn on an X Box game system and the gun held by Burgess fired, fatally shooting Williams.
During last week’s hearing, State’s Attorney Dora Mann presented evidence she said showed Burgess’ unwillingness to respect authority, attend school regularly and obey rules. She added that when the defendant possessed a firearm, he was disobeying a court order from a juvenile case.
Attorney Steele asked the judge for just probation, stating “it was a crime, but also an accident.” The state’s attorney responded the defendant knew it was a handgun and it was loaded.
Regina Prater, foster mother of Javarey Williams, read a victim impact statement. She said she would never want any parent to be in her position. Speaking to Burgess, the foster mother said “I could never hate you, because you are a child. I do hate what occurred and will never understand your reckless behavior.
Burgess submitted a written statement to the court, expressing his sorrow to the family and adding, “If I could go back and change everything, I would.”
The defendant called Javarey his best friend. Burgess stated he doesn’t want anybody to feel sorry for him because it’s nobody’s fault but his.