BLOOMINGTON — A man charged with being an armed habitual criminal during what his mother called "a love story that went wrong" was sentenced Wednesday to 17 years in prison.

Nathandre Campbell, 45, of Bloomington was convicted of possessing a loaded firearm in connection with a September 2016 incident at a motel in Normal. Campbell's criminal history includes home invasion, armed robbery and residential burglary, offenses that bar him from possessing a firearm.

According to police, Campbell was in a room at Motel 6 with a woman when her husband came to the door. While she was outside speaking to him, Campbell approached the man with a loaded handgun and threatened to shoot him, police said.

Normal police later located the handgun hidden behind ceiling tiles in the bathroom of the motel room. Campbell initially denied having a gun but after it was found, he said the weapon was his.

During his trial, Campbell testified that he lied to police to protect the woman. 

The defendant's mother, Sharleatha Morgan, testified that Campbell was the eldest of her five children and acted as a caregiver to his siblings while she worked. 

"I'm not gonna give up on my child," Morgan told Judge Scott Drazewski.

The incident involving the gun was "a love story that went wrong," said Morgan, and took place during a time Campbell was involved with the married woman.

Assistant State's Attorney David Spence asked for a 25-year sentence, calling Campbell "a threat to society ... an individual society better keep out of everybody's way."

The prosecutor noted that Campbell has spent 19 years of his life in custody, including a 15-year stint in the Department of Corrections that ended in 2014. The defendant built a criminal record of 12 felonies starting in 1992.

Defense lawyer Philip Finegan sought the minimum sentence of six years. Campbell has physical and mental health issues, said Finegan.

Campbell also has "children and grandchildren who would benefit from him being released sooner rather than later," said Finegan.

In a lengthy statement to the judge, Campbell recounted a challenging childhood growing up in Chicago. He witnessed violence against his mother by a man who turned his anger toward Campbell after he tried to protect his mother.

"I'm not running from my past," said Campbell, acknowledging that he has "a problem of being around the wrong people who aggravate my temper."

Campbell asked the judge for a second chance. 

"I'm done being the person people think I am. I'm not a menace to society," he said.

In remarks ahead of imposing the sentence, Drazewski expressed compassion for the hardships Campbell endured as a child. Those experiences helped form him into the multidimensional person he is today, said the judge.

But many people face trauma and adversity in their lives and do not become criminals, said Drazewski.

"You are a person who made bad choices and decisions in your life," said the judge. 

Campbell looked toward the large group of family and friends in the courtroom after the hearing before he lowered his head on the defense table.

Finegan said he will file an appeal on Campbell's behalf.

Photos: 2018 McLean County jail mug shots

Contact Edith Brady-Lunny at (309) 820-3276. Follow her on Twitter: @pg_blunny

McLean County Courts Reporter

McLean County courts reporter for The Pantagraph.