A third individual charged in a drug transaction that ended in a shooting at Urbana University pleaded not guilty this week in the Champaign County Common Pleas Court.
Ryan M. Rowland, 20, pleaded not guilty to one count of trafficking in marijuana with one-year and three-year firearm specifications Wednesday. A case scheduling conference is scheduled for Feb. 20.
Rowland is one of five indicted in January for a Nov. 6, 2018, incident that resulted in the university being placed on lockdown.
Rowland, Hunter Donnan and Brandon J. Craft went to the university on that day with the intent to sell over 200 grams of marijuana to Urbana University student Ryon W. Lucas.
An investigation by the Urbana Police Division found Lucas intended to steal the drugs from the men.
An associate of Lucas, in the room with him during the attempted drug deal, brandished a handgun and struck Donnan in the head with the gun.
Craft had a loaded .22 caliber revolver in his waistband while completing the drug transaction. When he observed Donnan get hit, Craft started to pull his revolver from his waistline.
Lucas’ associate then struck Craft in the head two times, causing Craft to drop his revolver. When Lucas’ associate struck Craft in the head with the handgun, the gun fired.
Everyone in the room ran from the room and left the campus.
A sentencing hearing for Donnan, 18, is scheduled for Feb. 20 after he pleaded guilty to two counts of trafficking in marijuana, both fourth-degree felonies, in January.
Lucas, 21, pleaded not guilty to two counts of felonious assault with one-year and three-year firearm specifications, and one count each of aggravated robbery with one-year and three-year firearm specifications and tampering with evidence. A final pretrial conference in his case is scheduled for April 2.
Craft, 18, pleaded not guilty to one count each of trafficking in marijuana with one-year and three-year firearm specifications and a specification for forfeiture of property and carrying a concealed weapon with a specification for forfeiture of property. A final pretrial conference in his case is scheduled for April 2.
Dioro C. Geroski Jr., 22, was also indicted on two counts of felonious assault with one-year and three-year firearm specifications and aggravated robbery with one-year and three-year firearm specifications.
The grand jury indictment contends Geroski was the individual who struck Donnan and Craft with a gun.
Trial dates rescheduled in weapons case
Trial dates in the case of a man accused of illegally possessing firearms were moved to next month during a hearing Wednesday in the Champaign County Common Pleas Court.
A jury trial in the case of Jacob M. Heyder previously scheduled to start on Feb. 26 was re-scheduled to start on March 26.
During Wednesday’s hearing, an oral motion to continue the trial date was granted by the court and Heyder executed a waiver of speedy trial.
Heyder, 26, is charged with four counts of having weapons while under disability with one-year and three-year firearm specifications and one count of criminal damaging or endangering stemming from a Dec. 8, 2018, incident.
A court statement filed in the Champaign County Municipal Court states that on that date, Urbana Police spoke to an Urbana resident in reference to Heyder texting him and making threats. The resident previously made a complaint about harassing text messages from Heyder earlier in the day.
The court statement notes Heyder was on parole at the time. The grand jury indictment states he was previously convicted of aggravated robbery in 2014 in Franklin County.
When the resident arrived at the police department, he showed texts from Heyder and photos of Heyder holding two long guns, holding a small revolver and a long gun. Other photos showed Heyder with swords, knives and other weapons.
Police noted the photo of Heyder with the long guns was taken on Nov. 9, 2018.
The resident also told police Heyder was responsible for shooting out a pizza delivery driver’s vehicle window from his balcony.
An Urbana Police Division incident report states on Dec. 4, 2018, a driver was backing out of a parking spot at 941 W. state Route 29 and heard a loud pop. The driver stated someone shot a BB at the rear window of his vehicle as he was pulling away. Photos were taken of the shattered glass and a small round hole in the lower left side of the window was observed.
The criminal damaging or endangering charge, a second-degree misdemeanor, against Heyder is related to this alleged conduct.
The resident told police he did not tell them about this incident because Heyder threatened him and his family if he told police.
Police and members of the Adult Parole Authority for Champaign County decided to visit Heyder’s residence. Due to the information gathered from the resident and possible threats involving guns, law enforcement formulated a plan so all officers and occupants in the house would be safe.
When they arrived at the residence, Heyder told law enforcement to go away. After being informed that the Adult Parole Authority representative was there to conduct a home visit and that he would be detained, Heyder was uncooperative.
While searching the residence, police found a woman who was identified as Nicole L. Hitchcock who had an active warrant for her arrest.
Along with pills, police found marijuana and drug paraphernalia within the residence.
Police were informed that the guns Heyder posed with did not belong to him and had been removed from the residence after he tried multiple times to gain access to them.
Hitchcock, 30, pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated possession of drugs, a fifth-degree felony, on Jan. 23. The charge stemmed from the police search of Heyder’s residence on Dec. 8, 2018.
After pleading guilty, Hitchcock was placed on community control for a period of two years.
Nick Walton can be reached at 937-652-1331 Ext. 1777.