May 24, 2005

Teens who beat priest face up to 3 years in prison


Associated Press
May. 24, 2005 09:30 AM

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Two teenagers charged with the December beating of a priest in Springfield have pleaded guilty to aggravated battery and face up to three years in prison.

As part of Monday's agreement with the state, Jamie E. Gibson, 17, and Ryan Boyle, 15, will face no more than three years when Sangamon County Circuit Judge Leo Zappa sentences them July 19. A second aggravated battery count against each teenager was dismissed in exchange for the guilty pleas.

Each admitted hitting and kicking the Rev. Eugene Costa, 54, in the head and body after he offered them $50 for sex acts, police said Gibson told them.

Boyle is charged as an adult in the case, although if he is sentenced to the Department of Corrections, he will be held in a juvenile facility until he is 17.

Aggravated battery is punishable by up to five years in prison, but probation is an option.

Assistant state's attorney Karen Tharp said a Springfield Park District police officer came across Costa's car in Douglas Park about 10:30 p.m. on Dec. 21 after the park was closed. Costa was found near the vehicle, severely beaten.

Gibson told police he and Boyle had cut through the park, stopped to smoke a cigarette and rest. An older man, later identified as Costa, started talking to them, offered the youths $50 for sex acts, and then rubbed up against Gibson and touched his leg.

When the man did the same thing again, Gibson punched him, knocking him to the ground. Gibson and Boyle then started kicking Costa in the head.

Posted by kshaw at May 24, 2005 04:33 PM