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Memory Lapses Trip Up Testimony At Bloomington Murder Trial

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

In the days leading up to a June 2018 triple murder, Sydney Mays was hanging out with people known to have drugs and guns in their homes, according to witnesses at Mays' bench trial.

The 24-year-old suspect is accused of killing Nate Pena and Corey Jackson, both 22, and Juan Carlos Perez, 33, at an apartment on Riley Drive. Pena's son, who was 4 at the time, was critically injured.

During the fourth day of testimony, prosecutors had a difficult time getting some witnesses to answer questions.

Mays' cousin, Choente Hinkle, began his time on the stand by refusing to take an oath to be truthful, even after Judge Casey Costigan told the witness he could face contempt or perjury charges. Hinkle repeatedly claimed he could not recall his interactions with Mays, or statements he made to police. 

“I don’t remember nothin’ of it. This is 2021,” said Hinkle, who is serving time for cannabis trafficking.

Ky Williams picked up Mays and two others after their car broke down en route to Peoria hours after the shooting. The two men with Mays, Jahquan Howard and Jamahri Watkins, gave Mays a ride from Riley Drive, according to police.

Williams also experienced memory lapses when asked questions about his statements to police. But Williams did recall Mays giving him $80 for the ride to Peoria. Mays was quiet on the ride, said Williams.

Randy Nesby testified that he saw Howard and Watkins when the pair showed up at his home after they returned to Bloomington with Williams. Watkins was “a little on edge" and pacing, said Nesby. 

“He was acting weird,” said Nesby, who recalled routinely seeing guns and drugs at Howard's home.

Prior witnesses testified this week that Mays often visited Pena's apartment, a place known for its frequent source of marijuana sales.

Forensic pathologist Dr. Scott Denton testified Thursday that Pena was shot once in the back of the head and the other two men suffered multiple gunshot wounds. The child was paralyzed when a bullet struck his spine. 

The state was expected to wrap its case Thursday afternoon.

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