Pair acquitted of murder try; guilty of kidnapping

2007-01-18T00:00:00Z Pair acquitted of murder try; guilty of kidnappingEdith Brady-Lunny eblunny@pantagraph.com pantagraph.com
January 18, 2007 12:00 am  • 

BLOOMINGTON - A Twin City man and woman were acquitted Thursday of attempted murder but convicted of kidnapping and other charges in a case a prosecutor described as vigilante justice.

Wesley M. Radford, 28, of Reading Road in Bloomington and Jennifer R. McWhorter, 20, of the 1300 block of Wall Street in Normal were tried together this week on charges of attempted murder, aggravated kidnapping, robbery, aggravated battery and mob action in the May 29 attack on a Bloomington man who was 18 at the time of the incident.

The jury acquitted the couple of attempted murder and robbery, but convicted them of aggravated kidnapping, aggravated battery and mob action.

The victim, who was in McWhorter's apartment with the defendants and several friends, allegedly stole several items while McWhorter was away for about an hour, court records said.

The pair called on several friends to help beat the man in apparent retaliation, assistant State's Attorney Bill Workman said in closing arguments Thursday.

"What happened to him shouldn't happen in a civilized society. They did their own form of vigilante justice," said Workman.

Photos of the man's injuries were projected onto a screen for the jury. Cuts, bruises, and marks left by a belt tied around the victim's neck were apparent in the photos.

"When you have to have plastic surgery to repair the damage, it's great bodily harm," said Workman.

Radford's defense attorney Keith Davis described the victim as "a lying, thieving drug addict" who wanted to steal money and other items from the apartment to support his drug habit.

The man could have escaped from the apartment, said Davis, but stayed because he feared arrest by authorities.

Among the items he was accused of taking were jewelry, prescription medication and digital video discs.

McWhorter's defense counsel Dodie Junkert noted the victim offered several different versions of what happened to police and doctors after he was picked up naked by police along North Main Street in Normal.

"I believe he's recalled what happened to him as he's needed to," said Junkert.

A third defendant in the case, Courtney Pate, 19, of Heyworth testified. Pate pleaded guilty in September to obstruction of justice and was given 30 months of probation and 140 days in jail.

Radford and McWhorter are to be sentenced March 6. McWhorter and Radford face six to 30 years on the Class X aggravated kidnapping charge.

Davis said after the verdict that he is pleased with the acquittals but disappointed with the convictions.

"The aggravated kidnapping is a setback and I'm upset about that," Davis said of the conviction that carries a mandatory prison term.

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