WATSEKA — On the day he was to stand trial for the alleged beating of an elderly man outside a Buckley bar, a 27-year-old rural Buckley man pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated battery and was sentenced to four years of probation.
As part of a plea agreement negotiated by his attorney, Ron Boyer of Watseka, and the Iroquois County State’s Attorney’s Office, Shayne A. Weber entered the plea on Wednesday to the Class 2 felony charge, which alleged he caused great bodily harm to a person 60 years of age or older.
In return, prosecutors agreed to dismiss a second aggravated battery charge — a Class 3 felony alleging Weber knew the victim was age 60 or older.
Both charges alleged that Weber struck Buckley resident Michael L. Hilligoss, then 67, in the head as they were outside the Dutchmaster Bar at 114 S. Railroad Ave. on July 9, 2017.
Hilligoss told the Ford County Record that he was left with bruises and cuts all over his head and body, a broken collarbone and hemorrhaging in his brain. Hilligoss was hospitalized for two days after the incident.
The four-year probation sentence Weber received was the maximum community-based sentence he could have received under truth-in-sentencing guidelines. Alternatively, Weber could have been sentenced to up to seven years in prison.
Conditions of his probation, as ordered by Judge James Kinzer, include having no contact with Hilligoss or his wife, Rita; not owning or possessing a firearm or deadly weapon; not leaving Illinois without prior permission of the court or probation department; and submitting to drug testing and not testing positive.
Weber was also ordered to pay fines totaling more than $1,000.
Restitution of up to $115,000 will be ordered at a later date.
Weber was also allegedly involved in a December 2016 fight at the same bar. In that incident, 25-year-old Lyons resident Daniel K. Connolly lost his life when two other men used their body weight to hold him down and he suffocated. Prosecutors, however, did not charge anyone.
In December 2017, a wrongful-death lawsuit was filed in Iroquois County Circuit Court by Mr. Connolly’s estate against the bar, Weber and the two other men — Iroquois County residents Michael Bristle and Stephen Niemann. The six-count civil complaint seeks in excess of $50,000 in damages for each count.
Depositions are expected to be completed this month, and attorneys for the plaintiff and defendants are scheduled to participate in a telephone conference at 1:15 p.m. Feb. 19.