Two suspended Western Illinois Correctional Center guards are heading to trial in June after months of delays due to COVID-19. 29-year-old Alex Banta of Quincy and 52-year-old Todd Scheffler will be heading to trial on June 28th after both defendants waived the right to a speedy trial on March 10th. Banta and Scheffler are both accused of conspiracy to deprive civil rights and deprivation of civil rights under color of law resulting in bodily injury and death, conspiracy to engage in misleading conduct, and two counts of obstruction of justice in the death of 65-year-old inmate Larry Earvin.
On March 9th, fellow guard, 42-year-old Willie Hedden of Mt. Sterling plead guilty to his role in the alleged May 2018 assault of Earvin that led to his eventual death 6 weeks later. U.S. District Judge Richard Mills is set to provide sentencing for Headden on July 21st who faces 20 years to life in prison. Under the terms of Hedden’s plea agreement, he is expected to cooperate in the prosecution’s case against both Banta and Scheffler.
Counsel for the Government estimates that a jury trial would last no longer than two weeks. Banta is currently being given work release to a job in Missouri, according to court documents. Magistrate Judge Tom Schanzle-Haskins will impanel the jury on June 24th with the trial set for June 28th. Both guards face up to 20 years to life in prison if they are found guilty on the charges.