SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WMBD)– An Illinois prison guard has been sentenced for civil rights deprivation resulting in bodily injury, death and obstruction of justice.
43-year-old Willie Hedden was sentenced to six years after pleading guilty. He is the third officer to be sentenced in the death of inmate 65-year-old Larry Earvin.
In December 2019, a federal grand jury returned an indictment against Hedden, of Mt. Sterling; Todd Sheffler, 54, of Mendon, Illinois; and Alex Banta, 31, of Quincy, Illinois, charging each of them with civil rights resulting in bodily injury and death and obstruction offenses.
Evidence was presented that showed Hedden, and co-defendants Sheffler, who was a lieutenant, and Banta, who was a correctional officer, participated in the May 17, 2018, assault of Earvin, during their forcible escort of Earvin from the residential housing unit of the prison to the segregation housing unit while he was restrained and handcuffed behind his back and while he posed no physical threat to the defendants or other correctional officers.
After the assault, all three defendants failed to ensure Earvin received medical care and instead sought medical attention for their own minor scratches and thereafter falsified incident reports that they filed with prison officials and lied to the Illinois State Police by denying any knowledge of or participation in the assault.
The statutory penalties for each of the civil rights resulting in death charges are up to life imprisonment. The statutory penalties for each of the obstruction of justice charges are up to 20 years of imprisonment.