CHARLESTON — Josiah Lyons was sentenced Thursday to juvenile detention with the possibility of an adult punishment for shooting a fellow Mattoon High School student last year.
Saying he hoped it was a sentence "you never serve," Judge Matt Sullivan made a 25-year term in adult prison possible for Lyons during the hearing in in Coles County Circuit Court. It was "fairly straight forward" to sentence the 15-year-old to juvenile prison for the shooting on Sept. 20, 2017, he said, but what was "most significant" was to make sure Lyons isn't a threat in the future.
"No one should have to worry about their kids being shot at school," said Sullivan, referring to the adult portion of his ruling. "I'm about to impose a sentence that, frankly, I hope you never serve. I hope you mature. I hope you never serve a minute of it."
It was during a hearing in August that Lyons admitted to a juvenile court petition, the same as a guilty plea, on a charge of aggravated battery with a firearm. Lyons faced the charge after taking a gun to school and shooting another student in the cafeteria.
In prior court proceedings, Sullivan allowed for the adult sentence possibility, though Lyons was charged as a juvenile. The decision means a sentence in adult prison can be imposed if Lyons commits another crime or otherwise violates sentence requirements while serving his juvenile sentence.
In case of a violation, the state's attorney's office could file a petition asking for the adult sentence. If a judge agrees, Lyons could be ordered transferred to adult prison immediately or once he reaches a certain age.
On Thursday, the case's attorneys agreed that Lyons' juvenile court sentence should begin in the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, the juvenile equivalent of adult prison. It will be up to state officials to determine how long Lyons spends in juvenile detention, but he cannot be held past age 21.
Prosecution evidence Thursday included a statement from the injured student, identified by the initials D.D. He told of how the shot went through his left hand and into his chest, leaving him with broken ribs and nerve damage in the hand to this day.
"Everyone in my family has felt the pain," he said.
The boy's father described how he got a frantic call from his daughter, also a Mattoon High School student, at the time of the shooting and eventually learned that his son was the gunshot victim.
The man, who also wasn't identified by name in court, mentioned the claims by some that Lyons' actions were a result of being bullied.
"This was apparently somehow supposed to justify his actions," the victim's father said. "This is not a gun issue, this is not a bullying issue. This is you, Josiah. You became the biggest bully in that school."
Lyons looked directly at the father during his statement and began crying when the man told him he held "no ill will" and he hoped Lyons can "make things right."