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Sydney Mays gets 3 life sentences for 2018 Bloomington killings

Sydney Mays
David Proeber
The Pantagraph (Pool)
Sydney Mays Jr. refused to attend Friday's sentencing hearing. This photo is from a previous day in court.

Sydney Mays Jr. was sentenced to three life terms in prison Friday for murder in the 2018 Bloomington shooting that killed three people and left a 4-year-old boy paralyzed.

Mays refused to attend the sentencing hearing which was continued from an Oct. 4 hearing where he refused to return to the courtroom after Judge Casey Costigan denied his motion for a new trial. Mays had argued that his former defense lawyer Michael Clancy provided ineffective legal counsel during a January trial.

Mays was convicted of killing Nate Pena and Corey Jackson, both 22, and Juan Carlos Perez, 33, at an apartment on Riley Drive in Bloomington. Pena’s son was wounded in the incident.

State law mandates a life sentence in cases involving multiple deaths. Costigan’s decision making in Mays’ case was limited to the attempted murder of the child, a conviction carrying a potential sentence of 30 years to life.

Costigan sentenced Mays to a 50-year consecutive term for the attempted murder.

In her request for four life terms, prosecutor Erika Reynolds said Mays “slaughtered people he claimed were his friends.”

Mays’ decision to skip his sentencing hearings was yet another example of his cowardice as he deliberately chose to avoid the opportunity to hear from the families of his victims, said Reynolds.

In a victim impact statement read to the judge by a prosecutor, the wife of Juan Carlos Perez described how the loss of her husband has impacted her family.

“My life changed in an instant,” said the letter from Maria Sanchez.

“We had many dreams that will not be fulfilled,” said Sanchez, who has two daughters and was pregnant when her husband was killed.

Perez was “an innocent bystander" who was running from the apartment when he was shot, said Sanchez.

The young survivor of the shooting also experienced life changes, said Reynolds. A bullet wound to the spine left the boy confined to a wheelchair. The opportunity to walk across the stage at graduation, playing sports and walking down the aisle to meet a bride are a few of the experiences the victim will miss because of Mays’ actions, said the prosecutor.

Defense lawyer Brian McEldowney, appointed to represent Mays at the hearing, offered no mitigating evidence on Mays’ behalf. He asked for a concurrent, 31-year term for the attempted murder charge.

In his remarks before issuing the sentence, Costigan referred to situations related to the unnecessary and tragic loss of life as “about the most unfortunate thing the court has to deal with.” The judge expressed sympathy to the large group of victims’ supporters.

Costigan also ordered about $10,000 in restitution to victims’ families.

In a statement after the sentencing, State’s Attorney Don Knapp said, “obviously no sentence or number of years will bring back the loved ones lost in this senseless act of violence. We hope the victims’ families can take some comfort in knowing that the defendant will not be able to harm anyone in the community ever again, thanks to the incredibly hard work of Sgt. Tim Power and the entire team at the Bloomington Police Department.”

Edith Brady-Lunny was a correspondent at WGLT, joining the station in 2019. She left the station in 2024.