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Judge Convicts Sydney Mays In Triple Homicide; Faces Life In Prison

Sydney Mays
David Proeber
The Pantagraph (Pool)
Sydney Mays had no reaction when Judge Casey Costigan delivered his guilty verdict, which followed a six-day bench trial.

A judge found Sydney Mays guilty Wednesday of fatally wounding three men and critically injuring a child during a 2018 shooting in Bloomington.

Mays had no reaction when Judge Casey Costigan delivered his decision that followed a six-day bench trial. The decision was delivered in a 45-minute ruling.

The 24-year-old defendant was convicted of killing Nate Pena and Corey Jackson, both 22, and Juan Carlos Perez, 33, in what police contend was a drug-related robbery by Mays. 

Prosecutors argued during the trial that Mays set his sights on robbing Pena and Jackson after he saw a Snapchat photo posted by Jackson of a large amount of cash. Mays went to Pena’s apartment on June 18, 2018, where he allegedly shot the two men and wounded Pena’s 4-year-old son who survived, but who is paralyzed as a result of his injuries.

A social media post by Mays several weeks after the slaying showed him with a similar stack of bills, according to evidence introduced at the trial.

In his closing argument, defense lawyer Michael Clancy asked the judge to closely review the timeline of the incident as recorded by security camera footage from the area of Riley Drive. The 2:32 p.m. departure of Pena’s girlfriend from the apartment, coupled with footage of Mays’ departure in a friend’s car at 2:37 p.m. left Mays with only a few minutes to kill the two men and Perez, who was killed outside in a stairwell, according to the defense.

Such a crime would require “something of a James Bond character” to be successful, Clancy said in closing remarks on Monday.

In his ruling, Costigan said he considered all the testimony and evidence.

He believes Mays committed the murders in the three minutes and 29 seconds outlined in security videos. 

Forensic evidence showed Pena and Jackson were both killed with the same handgun and a second gun was used to kill Perez. 

Several witnesses who knew Pena, Jackson and Mays provided small amounts of information during their testimony, but most were uncooperative, claiming they could not recall details of their police interviews. When pressed by prosecutors Brad Rigdon and Erika Reynolds, witnesses acknowledged that Mays, Pena and Jackson traded in drugs and had access to guns. 

Evidence that Mays fled Illinois for Wisconsin after the shootings “still doesn’t put a gun in Mr. Mays’ hands or make him the shooter," said Costigan. 

But the totality of the evidence, combined with witness statements, convinced Costigan that Mays was the shooter.

An April 15 sentencing is set for Mays, who faces life in prison.

After the sentencing, State's Attorney Don Knapp issued a statement:

"Hopefully the court’s verdict brings at least some comfort, even if it is ever so slight, to the victims’ families in this matter who have suffered unimaginable loss. Were it not for the extraordinary efforts of the entire Bloomington Police Department, no justice for these victims or their families would have been possible. The singular inescapable conclusion for anyone watching that trial is that Sgt. Power, Detective Melton and the entire BPD team worked tirelessly to uncover the truth of what happened on Riley Drive that horrible afternoon. While there are many more individuals to recognize for their efforts in this case, not the least of which was our trial team of Erika Reynolds, Brad Rigdon and Emily Young, our attention remains firmly focused on another mass shooting incident from 2018 set to begin trial on Monday. Chief Scott and I look forward to more thorough debriefing of these incidents following the conclusion of that trial."

Clancy declined to comment after the ruling.

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