URBANA — Champaign County’s top prosecutor said authorities believe three Champaign teens killed a rideshare driver who was trying to make money to attend veterinary medicine school at the University of Illinois.
Two were in court Friday for the first time to hear the first-degree murder charges filed against them. Police continue to look for the third, who is known to them.
After hearing State’s Attorney Julia Rietz lay out the facts surrounding the arrests of Jahiem S. Dyer, 17, of the 900 block of South State Street, and Na’Shown Fenderson, 16, of the 2300 block of South Barberry, Judge Brett Olmstead set bonds for each at $3 million.
Rietz had sought “in excess of $2 million.”
The four murder counts, worded slightly differently, accuse them of fatally shooting Kristian Philpotts, 29, of Chicago, as they tried to rob him inside a Jeep in Urbana Wednesday night.
The pair appeared before Olmstead via video hookup from the Juvenile Detention Center, where they have been held since late Wednesday.
Olmstead appointed the public defender’s office to represent both and told them to be back in court Feb 2 for a probable cause hearing.
Rietz told Olmstead that about 6:20 p.m. Wednesday, Urbana police found the dying Mr. Philpotts on South Vine Street near Burkwood Court, just south of Florida Avenue, thinking he had been hit by a car.
In short order, they also found the Jeep he’d been driving, crashed about four blocks north of there.
Using information about the vehicle, they quickly learned that Mr. Philpotts had rented the Jeep from Hertz for the purpose of using it as a Lyft driver.
On him, they found a phone which showed the rideshare app and a pickup from Fenderson’s address to an intended location in the 1800 block of South Cottage Grove Avenue in Urbana.
Inside the car was a single shell casing and two phones.
As police canvassed the area, Urbana Sgt. Cortez Gardner saw two young men on a porch in the 1500 block of South Vine Street with the homeowner.
Rietz said Fenderson told the homeowner they had heard a gunshot and needed to use a phone to get a ride, then walked away from the house. Two other neighbors in that area reported similar requests from the trio.
Gardner saw Fenderson and Dyer get in a car on Florida Avenue and learned that it registered to a person living at Fenderson’s address.
Police then watched that home and saw other people go in and out, then leave in the car in which they’d been picked up as well as another car.
Both cars were …….