CHARLESTON -- Though a man was present during a fatal shooting, there was no "action" on his part to show his direct involvement.
That was the explanation Coles County State's Attorney Brian Bower gave for the agreement that allowed Matthew S. Cook to plead guilty to a reduced charge in connection with the June 18 fatal shooting of a woman in Mattoon.
Cook, 32, for whom court records list addresses on Charleston Avenue in Mattoon and on County Road 800N in rural Coles County, was one of four men charged after the death of Ciara J. Faires, 23, of Charleston.
He was originally accused of taking part in a try by another suspect to retrieve stolen guns, which led to a confrontation that resulted in the fatal shooting of Faires.
Cook first faced charges of attempted robbery and conspiracy, offenses that would have required a prison sentence of six to 30 years with a conviction.
But with the agreement reached in his case, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of attempted intimidation. His sentence was six months of conditional discharge, which is supervision similar to probation but with fewer restrictions.
Two of the other suspects are charged with first-degree murder in connection with the incident. James Todd Shafer is accused of firing the shots that killed Faires, while Shawn D. Adamson is suspected of initiating the robbery and causing the incident that led to her death.
The other suspect, Kevin W. Johnson, 39, whose address on record is an apartment at 2100 Prairie Ave., Mattoon, was accused of having a similar role to Cook's.
Johnson received a 2 1/2-year probation sentence when he pleaded guilty to a robbery charge last month. Bower said it was clear that Johnson was more involved in the incident.
Bower said evidence emerged since the shooting and arrests that showed Cook was at the scene of the shooting for an "intimidation factor" but it couldn't be proven that he took part.
"The evidence we have is that he was there for the appearance of muscle and not the robbery," Bower said.
Circuit Judge Teresa Righter accepted the plea agreement in Cook's case. Bower and defense attorney Duane Deters recommended the agreement.
Deters also said Cook's involvement in the incident was "minimal" and mostly limited to his being at the scene of the shooting.
According to evidence from earlier hearings and court records, Adamson, 34, whose address on record is in Kankakee, wanted to retrieve a gun he gave Shafer.
Shafer, 25, whose address on record is on North 20th Street in Mattoon, took the gun to commit a robbery at Adamson's request but then backed out, the evidence showed.
The shooting took place at 313 S. 21st St., Mattoon, where Shafer and Faires, Shafer's girlfriend, were visiting a friend, according to the evidence. Faires left after an argument but was still outside when the shooting took place.
According to the evidence, after Adamson arrived with Cook and Johnson, he apparently fired a shot from a gun while outside during an attempt to enter.
Shafer returned fire from inside and his shots went through the residence's door and hit Faires, who later died at Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center.
Adamson and Shafer both remained jailed with their cases pending.