City woman pleads guilty to attempted unlawful restraint

By Nick Kovatch on February 6 at 8:20am

A Jacksonville woman arrested for kidnapping a former Murrayville Elementary School teacher’s aide last winter has pleaded guilty to a lesser crime.

Fifty-four-year-old Toni Hill of the 300 block of Greenwood pleaded guilty to attempted unlawful restraint in Morgan County Circuit Court yesterday. Hill was given 180 days in jail with 60 days to be served on house arrest. The remainder of the sentence was stayed for review pending she complies with the terms of her two year probation. Hill was also ordered to pay $75 in restitution to the victim.

Morgan County state’s attorney Robert Bonjean says Hill was arrested last January after she allegedly forced the victim to drive herself to a residence in Murrayville following an altercation at Murrayville Elementary School. Hill attempted to keep the victim at the residence by force for about a half hour.

“There was another person present,” says Bonjean. “I think a female relative of Ms. Hill’s and the two of them – I don’t know if threats were made. Obviously, the victim was not there willingly and wanted to leave. She eventually did leave, but there was a period of time, however brief, they kept her from being where she actually wanted to be.”

Bonjean says the other person involved during the crime was arrested but never charged after the incident.

“She would have been a potential witness if this case had proceeded to trial but we felt her involvement was a lot less, and that Ms. Hill was the main actor in the restraint,” says Bonjean.

He adds a charge of aggravated battery was dismissed as part of the plea.

“We obviously don’t take this into consideration in every case but due to Ms. Hill’s employment there were very few things she could plead guilty to that would not cause her to lose her job,” says Bonjean. “The offense that we ended up picking was one that we reviewed with the victim, took some of those aspects into consideration and that’s how we got to where we are today.”

Hill was represented by public defender Thomas Piper.
“Good people can make bad decisions. That doesn’t make them bad people,” says Piper. “I think Toni Hill is a really good person. The criminal justice system is more than just punishment.”

Seventh Circuit Judge David Cherry presided over the plea agreement.