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'Execution': Man gets 110-year sentence for 2021 fatal shooting in Bloomington

Michael Bakana, right, is charged with murder in connection with the 2021 shooting of Mariah Petracca.
Clay Jackson / The Pantagraph (Pool)
Michael Bakana, right, was convicted of murder in connection with the 2021 shooting of Mariah Petracca.

Michael Bakana, characterized as an executioner by the judge who sentenced him to 110 years in prison on Monday, insisted to the judge that he was the victim when he fatally shot a woman and critically injured her friend on a sidewalk outside a Bloomington bar.

A jury convicted the 44-year-old defendant from Normal in May of killing Mariah Petracca and wounding Bibi Cornejo, both of Bloomington, during a dispute in January 2021 that turned deadly.

“I was the victim of extreme emotional violence,” said Bakana, in remarks from a lengthy written statement he read during the hearing. He also said he apologizes to anyone who was harmed by his actions.

The argument with the two women outside Daddios included racial slurs by Bibi Cornejo, the surviving victim, toward Bakana, who is Black, according to the defendant.

“I am more than my color,” he said.

Cornejo has said previously she does not recall using such language, but added alcohol was one factor that likely blurred her memory from that night.

In his remarks ahead of issuing the sentence, Judge Casey Costigan rejected Bakana’s characterization of being a victim.

“You had a chance to walk away and you came back. You weren’t a victim in this situation at all, “ said Costigan. “You decided on your own to get a gun, come back and take matters into your own hands and execute a sentence of your own.”

Bakana’s week-long trial was held in his absence after he cut off his GPS monitoring device and fled Bloomington while on bond. He was captured by federal marshals in Kentucky the afternoon the verdict was returned.

Assistant State’s Attorney Jeff Horve asked for the maximum sentence of life in prison, saying the shooting “can only be characterized as an execution. Over what? Over nothing.”

Bakana’s actions were "brutal, vicious and cold blooded,” said the prosecutor.

Madeline Petracca, the mother of victim Mariah Petracca, offered an emotional victim impact statement in which she said her daughter “was taken from us so abruptly, our days and nights will never be the same.“

 Two men standing with hands in their pockets with the man on the left wearing a microphone.
Edith Brady-Lunny
Defense lawyers Clyde Guillamo, left, and Sean Brown stand inside the McLean County Law & Justice Center after the sentencing hearing for Michael Bakana.

Calling his client a "good man,” defense lawyer Clyde Guillamo sought the minimum sentence of 20 years, contending the circumstances supported second-degree murder. In his argument for a new trial, Guillamo maintained Costigan erred by not allowing the jury to consider the lesser murder charge.

Costigan explained the instruction could not be given as an option to the jury because Bakana was not present to confirm he wanted such an instruction.

Guillamo claimed Bakana was provoked by Bibi Cornejo, the woman who was injured. The fact that she spit on him at a time the country was battling the pandemic was an especially aggravating factor, said the attorney.

The judge ruled on a separate matter Monday related to the $200,000 in bond money forfeited by Bakana after he failed to attend his trial. Guillamo had requested the funds be turned over to him as part of his agreement with the defendant for legal fees. The court previously released $50,000 of the bond for legal costs.

The judge allowed Guillamo to receive another $50,000 in fees, and approved restitution of $5,700 to the Petraca family and $1,400 to Cornejo. After court costs, the circuit clerk will retain about $96,000 of the bail money paid by Bakana’s family.

In a statement released after the hearing, McLean County State’s Attorney Erika Reynolds said “no amount of time in prison can undo the terrible acts by the defendant in January 2021,” adding the 110 years imposed by Costigan “will help ensure that no other innocent person is victimized by the defendant.”

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Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.
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