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CHARLESTON -- A year and a month after Josiah Lyons shot a fellow student at Mattoon High School, his fate should be known Thursday.

The sentencing hearing for the 15-year-old is scheduled to take place. He faces a sentence based on his being a juvenile but also an adult prison sentence that could come later.

In August, Lyons admitted to a juvenile court petition, the equivalent of a guilty plea, to the charge against him in connection with the Sept. 20, 2017, shooting in the MHS cafeteria.

The dual sentencing approach is possible because the case's judge made an adult sentence possible if Lyons commits another crime or violates terms of his juvenile sentence.

Though Lyons was charged with and pleaded guilty to aggravated battery with a firearm, he could receive a juvenile probation sentence.

A conviction for the adult version of that offense requires prison time but there are no juvenile offenses that don't have probation as an option.

Mattoon High School shooting

A police car blocks traffic outside Mattoon High School in September after a shooting in the school cafeteria.

Circuit Judge Matt Sullivan, who's presiding in the case, could also order a sentence to the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, the juvenile version of prison.

That sentence wouldn't be for a set number of years but Lyons couldn't be held in juvenile detention past his 21st birthday. When Lyons would be released would be up to department officials.

Meanwhile, Sullivan will also set the length of the adult prison sentence in the chance that Lyons ever has to serve it.

For the adult equivalent of aggravated battery with a firearm, a prison sentence of six to 30 years is normally required with a conviction. In the case of a school shooting, the range is 30 to 60 years.

However, State's Attorney Brian Bower has said he plans to ask for a change to the charge against Lyons that would make the adult prison sentence 15 to 60 years.

Lyons would start by serving whatever's imposed as his juvenile sentence. He'd be eligible for the adult prison sentence if he violates terms of his sentence, either while on probation or in juvenile detention or during the parole period that would follow that.


Brad Brown, a pastor who serves as the Mattoon Police Department chaplain, addresses the crowd at a prayer vigil in a field next to Mattoon High School on Wednesday evening. More than 200 people attended the vigil that followed Wednesday's shooting incident at the high school.

In case of such a violation, the state's attorney's office could file a petition asking for the adult sentence. If a judge agrees, Lyons could be ordered transferred to adult prison immediately or once he reaches a certain age.

A probation sentence could include requirements for mental health treatment such as those that have been the center of defense attorney Ed Piraino's efforts since nearly the beginning of the case.

Piraino has been trying to find a facility to treat Lyons for diagnosed disorders, arguing that's needed to address his condition and help prevent future crimes.

A psychiatrist, Lawrence Jeckel, examined Lyons as part of the court proceedings. During testimony at a hearing in February, Jeckel said he diagnosed a defiance disorder and other conditions.

Court case gave some insight on what was behind Mattoon High School shooting

He said Lyons' actions were partly because of "perceived bullying" but he also acted as a bully himself.

Also according to Jeckel's account, the shooting was because Lyons fought or quarreled with a fellow student, reaching a point that he decided he wanted to "shoot her in the head."

He took a handgun from his home to the school but, when he couldn't find the other student, he decided to "go down shooting," Jeckel said.

MHS teacher Angela McQueen began to subdue Lyons at nearly the same time as he fired the gun and the shot hit and injured another student, according to accounts.

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Contact Dave Fopay at (217) 238-6858. Follow him on Twitter: @FopayDave



Dave Fopay is a reporter for the JG-TC who covers Coles County, the local court system, Charleston schools and more.

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