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Bench Trial Opens In Triple Homicide On Riley Drive

Sydney walks in
David Proeber
The Pantagraph (Pool)
Sydney Mays enters the courtroom Monday, Jan. 25, 2021, for the start of his murder trial.

The McLean County  judge who will determine a verdict in the June 2018 triple homicide on Bloomington's Riley Drive heard opening statements Monday in the case against Sydney Mays.

Mays is charged with nine counts of murder in the deaths of Nate Pena and Corey Jackson, both 22, and Juan Carlos Perez, 33. He also is charged with attempted murder for causing injuries that paralyzed Pena’s son, who was 4 at the time, and aggravated discharge of a firearm.

If convicted, Mays could be sentenced to life in prison.

In his opening remarks, First Assistant State’s Attorney Brad Rigdon said two sets of gunshots were fired from two different caliber weapons during the incident. Twelve rounds were fired inside the third-floor apartment on Riley Drive where Pena and Jackson were found. Another six rounds came from a second handgun used to kill Perez, described by Rigdon as a Good Samaritan who died as he went to check on the child after he heard the gunfire inside his nearby apartment.

The deaths were the result of “18 pulls of the trigger on two different guns made by this defendant,” said Rigdon.

Two witnesses will testify that they were in the apartment with Pena, Jackson and Mays before the shooting, said Rigdon.

Two men who answered Mays’ message to pick him up also will testify, said Rigdon, but their testimony and that of others may be limited by their apparent hesitancy to be involved in the murder case, said the prosecutor.

Rigdon did not offer a motive for the slayings, but said a short break took place between the shootings to allow Mays "to collect what he wanted after the shooting."

In his opening remarks, defense lawyer Michael Clancy said the case revolves less around why the murders occurred and more toward who is responsible.

“The 'who' is really why we’re here,” said Clancy.

The state, said Clancy, may be able to prove Mays was in the apartment on June 18, 2018, but prosecutors “will not even get close to proving Sydney Mays was the one who fired those shots.”

Residents of the complex where the victims died knew the victims’ residence as a high-traffic area, according to Clancy.

“That’s where people went to buy drugs in the area,” said the defense lawyer.

Surveillance video shows Mays leaving the apartment complex and getting into a car with his friends, Clancy acknowledged, but he noted that no forensic evidence linking Mays to the killings was found in the car.

Prosecutor Erika Reynolds told the judge the state has 29 witnesses on its list for what is expected to be a weeklong bench trial.

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