The U.S. Central District Court has set a date for a retrial of one of the Western Illinois Correctional Facility guards accused of violating the rights of a prisoner by participating in a beating that led to the prisoner’s death.
U.S. District Judge Sue E. Myerscough says the court has no objection to re-trying the case with a new jury against 53 year old Todd Sheffler of Mendon.
Sheffler’s verdict in the initial case was hung on a 9-3 vote on a jury that convicted 30 year old Alex Banta of Quincy on April 25th.
According to testimony, Sheffler was not a part of an initial beating doled out to 65 year old Larry Earvin in his residential unit but joined an escort that was taking Earvin to segregation at the Mt. Sterling prison. According to jurors after the trial, other fellow jurors didn’t believe that Sheffler was a part of the assault that ultimately led to Earvin’s death in May 2018, but believe he ultimately didn’t do anything to stop it or to report it properly.
The holdout jurors also said they did not believe evidence proved additional beating in the segregation unit’s blind spot because the bulk of the testimony about it came from Corrections employees who admitted to initially lying to the Illinois State Police or FBI. The “blind spot” in the segregation unit’s vestibule was not covered by security cameras. Multiple reports of beatings at this “blind spot” was uncovered by WBEZ radio in Chicago after an investigative report and interviews with several former inmates of the prison.
Sheffler faces a potential maximum penalty of life in prison if he is found guilty to any of the conspiracy or deprivation of civil rights charges.
Pre-trial motions are due to the court by May 23rd with responses by both sides to be made by May 31st. Jury selection for the case will be performed by a U.S. Magistrate judge. The final pretrial conference is scheduled for June 16th with the re-trial set to begin on July 5th.
Sheffler, Banta, and other guards and parties who have been mentioned during testimony at last month’s trial also face civil federal litigation with a possible trial in that case set for next year.