Jury Trial Set For Western IL Correctional Guards

By Benjamin Cox on August 5, 2021 at 8:57am

A jury trial date has been set for two Western Illinois Correctional Facility prison guards who stand accused of beating an inmate that resulted in his eventual death in 2018.

Todd Scheffler and Alex Banta are scheduled to stand trial on November 3rd after jury selection. Scheffler and Banta are charged with conspiracy, deprivation of civil rights, and obstruction among other charges in the alleged beating of inmate Larry Earvin as he was being transferred to a segregation unit at the Mt. Sterling prison.

The two guards were in pre-trial hearings this week in the Central Illinois District Court sorting out motions surrounding jury selection questions as well as admissible evidence and testimony in the case. Scheffler and Banta had 4 questions dismissed by the court which surrounded a potential jurors previous healthcare industry experience if any, views and ideas on race, views and ideas on Black Lives Matter/Blue Lives Matter and the Defund the Police movement, and a potential jurors religious and/or moral beliefs. Magistrate Judge Tom Schanzle-Haskins dismissed the questions on various grounds.

The two guards’ counsel also wished to exclude any photographs following Earvin’s surgery at St. John’s Hospital in Springfield after his beating as well as any autopsy photos depicting his critical conditional and multiple internal injuries caused by the alleged assault. In court filings, the defense says the photos are unfairly prejudicial under Federal Rules of Evidence. Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Bass answered and has asked the court to deny the motion.

Status on the remaining motions in the case will be heard and answered by the court on September 13th with jury selection set for November 1st and 2nd.