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Federal trial of two Adams Co. men in 2018 prison death delayed

Federal trial of two Adams Co. men in 2018 prison death delayed

2 weeks, 4 days ago by Scott Hardy

Trial for Todd Sheffler and Alex Banta delayed to March 28

Jury selection in the Federal trial of two Adams County men, accused of beating a prisoner in 2018 at the Western Illinois Correctional Center in Mount Sterling and causing his death, has again been delayed two months due to the pandemic. 

Jury selection in the trials for both Todd Sheffler of Mendon and Alex Banta of Quincy in U.S. District Court in Springfield were due to start Monday, and a trial was set to begin Tuesday. However, jury selection was delayed to March 28th, with the two to three-week trial starting after that. Banta's attorney asked for the delay, saying that Banta is still suffering after a recent bout with the virus. Both Sheffler and Banta face counts of Conspiracy, Deprivation of Civil Rights, Witness Tampering, obstruction and intimidation. The men are charged in a May 17th, 2018 incident, and are accused of severely beating inmate Larry Earvin. He suffered numerous injuries including a punctured colon and broken ribs, and died a month later.

A third defendant, Willie Hedden of Mount Sterling, has pleaded Guilty to counts of conspiracy to deprive civil rights, deprivation of civil rights and conspiracy to engage in misleading conduct. Hedden admitted taking part in the beating. Hedden also admitted that he falsified a prison report and lied to the Illinois State Police about the incident, and talked a friend and fellow prison employee into deleting a text message where Hedden admitted assaulting Earvin.

Hedden is set to be sentenced April 11th, and could get up to life in prison.

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