CHARLESTON -- The suspect in last fall's Mattoon High School shooting, Josiah Lyons, admitted Thursday to a charge of aggravated battery with a firearm in connection with the Sept. 20 incident. 

Lyons, now 15, was charged in juvenile court in connection with the shooting in the MHS cafeteria that injured another student. During the last hearing, Lyons waived his right to a jury trial, and this time around pleaded guilty to the charge. 

Lyons could see both a juvenile and adult prison sentence in the case. The adult prison term only would be possible if Lyons violates the terms of his sentence to juvenile detention.

"My office can file a petition to revoke or a petition to impose the adult sentence," Coles County State's Attorney Brian Bower has said of an adult sentence. "(Lyons) has the control. If he can comport his behavior, he can be done with this."

In juvenile court, the maximum possible sentence for a conviction would be detention with the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice until age 21.

For the adult equivalent of that offense, a prison sentence of six to 30 years is normally required with a conviction. In this case, a prison sentence of 30 to 60 years would be required because the shooting took place in a school.

During Thursday's hearing, Ed Piraino, the defense attorney in the case, again noted his frustrations about getting mental treatment for his client and getting a state agency like Illinois Department of Human Services involved in the case. Piraino has alleged the uncooperative nature of these agencies in helping him find an institution he felt suited Lyons.

This time, a representative from DHS was in the courtroom noting options for Lyons; but for Piriano, it was "a day late and a dollar short."

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Bower said it came down to an issue of whether the treatment would take place before or after the sentencing. 

"I don't question that the young man would benefit from mental health treatment," Bower said, based on testimony and other evidence presented to him.

Psychiatrist Lawrence Jeckel, who examined Lyons, testified previously that Lyons suffers from a defiance disorder and other conditions for which he can't be treated at the Juvenile Justice Department.

However, Bower said he saw it as a more appropriate option to look at treatment after the finding of guilt.

Circuit Judge Matt Sullivan, who is overseeing the case, will be tasked with a sentencing that could include a recommendation of rehabilitation and mental health treatment. Ultimately, it will be up to the Illinois Juvenile Justice system on how to proceed, though, Bower said. 

"The court pretty much divests themselves of the authority to make that order," Bower said. 

A sentencing hearing was scheduled for Oct. 11, where witnesses can testify as to the impact of Lyons' actions. This could include Angela McQueen, a teacher who subdued Lyons, or the victim who was shot. This could also be the time people can testify to Lyons' character on his behalf.  

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Contact Jarad Jarmon at (217) 238-6839. Follow him on Twitter: @JJarmonReporter



Jarad Jarmon is a reporter for the JG-TC. He covers the city of Charleston, Eastern Illinois University, Mattoon schools and the Regional Office of Education.

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