BLOOMINGTON — Bond was set at $3 million for each of the three men charged with first-degree murder in the July 3 beating death of a homeless man.

McLean County Circuit Court Associate Judge David Butler set the bonds during a hearing Thursday for Willie Chambers and Anthony Davis-Dickson, both 18, and Tory Washington,19, all of Bloomington.

Assistant State's Attorney Jessica Woods read the same probable-cause statement for each defendant. It explained how they were accused of beating 56-year-old Ronald D. Smith June 2 as he slept under a tree in O'Neil Park.

Each must post $300,025 to be released.

Woods said the teens beat Smith, who was chronically unemployed and homeless, for unknown reasons. Smith was able to get up during the beating, but the three defendants returned and beat him until he was bleeding heavily, Woods said in the hearing attended by the three suspects through a video link with the jail.

Smith crawled to nearby Sheridan Elementary School, where he asked for help from several children sitting in the school's butterfly garden. An adult called 911.

Smith was taken to Advocate BroMenn Medical Center, where he stayed until his death July 3 of assault-related internal injuries, said the prosecutor's statement.

A surveillance video obtained by Bloomington police showed the three men together at a grocery store shortly after the incident at the park.  The suspects were arrested later on June 6 in connection with two robberies and assaults on Constitution Trail in Normal.  

Criminal charges pending against the suspects also include the June 6 battery of a juvenile male at O'Neil Park.

The violent death of a homeless person points to the dangerous nature of life on the streets, said Matt Burgess, chief operating officer with Home Sweet Home Ministries, home to about 100 homeless children and adults.

Violence against homeless people "is all too frequent," said Burgess.

The shortage of adequate, affordable housing, including facilities with supportive services for people with mental illness, leaves many people without a home, said Burgess.

Home Sweet Home staff  sees evidence of the fear felt by homeless people.

"When people come to the soup kitchen, they may be carrying some kind of weapon because they're scared at some level," said Burgess.

The census at the Bloomington mission includes people whose loss of  a home is due to long-term problems but for some, the shelter is their first brush with homelessness, said Burgess.

The Bloomington shelter always has a waiting list for beds.

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