A Jacksonville man is headed to prison after a nearly 7 month delay in sentencing. 36 year old John W. Ater of the 600 block of Brandywine plead guilty to unlawful possession of a weapon by felon on February 25th in Morgan County Circuit Court. Sentencing in the case was expected to take place on March 30th, but has been delayed either by court order due to COVID-19 or to defense counsel’s motion to continue.
Ater was arrested on January 27, 2019 in a domestic incident in which he pistol whipped a female in the face and discharged a firearm in front of a group of people in the 600 block of East Lafayette Avenue. According to an article from the Journal Courier, Ater threatened a man and a woman with a gun and broke out a car window during an altercation. The man in the car was struck in the face with a baseball bat and the woman was hit in the face with the gun and shoved into the car. Ater then fired three shot into the air as the man and woman left the scene of the incident. 20 year old Jacob B. Ater of the 600 block of East Lafayette, was arrested in the incident for aggravated battery with the use of a deadly weapon. Jacob Ater’s next appearance is set for November 17th in Morgan County Court. 57 year old Rebekah I. Hayes also of the 600 block of East Lafayette was arrested for domestic battery in the incident, but her case was dismissed in Morgan County Court back in January.
John Ater was eventually charged with armed habitual criminal activity, unlawful use of a weapon, and aggravated battery. The 3 charges were dropped during the pre-trial and status back in February when the state added the unlawful possession of a weapon charge to receive the plea in the case.
Ater has previous convictions in 2003 for felony burglary in Morgan County and reckless discharge of a firearm in 2005 in Kendall County.
Ater was sentenced yesterday to 10 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections, 2 years mandatory supervised release, a $5,000 county fine, fees and court costs, and destruction of the firearm used in the incident. Ater was given credit for 74 days served in county jail. He was remanded to the custody of the Morgan County Detention Facility pending transfer to an IDOC facility at a later date.