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Coltrain to judge: "I am not a trouble-maker"

Published: Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013 12:00 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013 2:46 p.m. CDT
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Justin Coltrain, Mt. Morris. Photo supplied

A Mt. Morris man charged with a hate crime and battery told an Ogle County judge Monday that he is not a trouble-maker.

Justin W. Coltrain, 33, is charged with a hate crime, a Class 4 felony, and battery, a Class A misdemeanor, in connection with an underage drinking party in Oregon on Aug. 10 where a fight broke out that resulted in the death of 18-year-old Jonathan Williams, Oregon.

"I'm not a trouble-maker," said Coltrain after his lengthy criminal history was recounted by Assistant State's Attorney Josh Versluys in a hearing before Judge Robert Hanson.

Coltrain is accused of making racial slurs to another party-goer and striking him.

Ogle County State's Attorney Michael Rock said the racial slurs were directed at an African American.

Coltrain's adult criminal history dates back to 2000 and includes aggravated battery and burglary charges.

He told Hanson that he did not commit all the crimes he has been accused of, but pleaded guilty just to get out of jail.

Hanson left Coltrain's bond at $100,000, saying he is concerned over Coltrain's history of "significant batteries."

"You went to the Department of Corrections for some of them," Hanson said.

Coltrain replied that he has put that all behind him.

"They're charging the wrong people," he said.

Hanson advised him to get an attorney and to not discuss what happened at the party with anyone other than his attorney.

A woman who identified herself as the mother of Coltrain's ex-girlfriend urged Hanson to lower the bond.

"He's not a flight risk," said the woman who would not give her name after the hearing. "He lived at my house for two and one-half years, and we had no problems."

She said she is trying to hire an attorney for Coltrain but is struggling to come up with the $10,000 bail plus a retainer for an attorney of $2,000 to $3,000.

Coltrain, who had bruises under both eyes, told Hanson he was attacked by another inmate in the Ogle County Jail after his arrest Nov. 27 and wants to press charges against the person who hit him.

Hanson told him to discuss that with his attorney.

Coltrain and Matthew Steder, 22, Mt. Morris, who is also charged with three counts of hate crimes stemming from the same party, are being held in the Whiteside County Jail.

Ogle County Sheriff Michael Harn declined to comment on the alleged incident at the jail. Rock said Tuesday that he has not yet received a report on the incident.

However, Coltrain told Sauk Valley Media that he was attacked Nov. 27 by African American inmates sharing his cell after they heard a TV news report that said he was charged with a hate crime.

Steder also appeared before Hanson on Monday.

He is also charged with one count of aggravated battery, a Class 3 felony, as well as three counts of battery, in additional to hate crimes.

Both Coltrain and Steder, who are scheduled to appear in court Dec. 6, are two of the seven adults charged last week in connection with the party that took place Aug. 10 at the Heck residence at 804 Monroe St., Oregon.

Williams died Aug. 11 at OSF St. Anthony Medical Center, Rockford, after being injured in the fight which occurred in the wee hours of Aug. 10.  Rock announced the following charges on Nov. 27, whatwould have been Williams 19th birthday:

• Brian Galor, 21, Rockford, delivery of alcohol to a minor;

• Maria Coleman, 19, Oregon, reckless conduct;

• Cody Munroe, 18, reckless conduct;

• Cameron Clark, 21, Rochelle, reckless conduct;

• Kylie Heck, 19, Oregon, reckless conduct.

Two juveniles were also charged.

Rock said the reckless conduct charges were filed because the four did not seek medical help for Williams for several hours.

Munroe, who Rock said is in Missouri, has not yet been arrested.

Galor also appeared before Hanson Monday. He remains in the Ogle County Jail.

The others are scheduled to appear in court later this month.

A Winnebago County Grand Jury ruled Williams' death a homicide last month. The cause of Williams’ death already had been ruled to be “blunt trauma of the head due to a fall as a result of a physical altercation.”

Rock said last week that no one will be charged for Williams' death.

He said the fight involved several party-goers and spilled out into the neighborhood.

"Witnesses indicate Mr. Williams chased another individual who struck Mr. Williams in self defense resulting in Mr. Williams striking his head. Mr. Williams was carried back into the residence where he remained for hours before receiving medical attention," Rock said in a press release issued Nov. 27.

"The Ogle County State’s Attorney’s Office and the Oregon Police Department have worked together and in consultation with the family of Williams in determining the charges supported by the investigation," read the press release.

"The death of a man so young is a tragedy," Rock said. "Jonathan’s death was preventable and the direct result of the actions of individuals at the party who started the fight, and other individuals who failed to get Mr. Williams medical attention that likely would have saved his life."

Oregon police were called about 3:15 a.m. on Aug. 10 by a neighbor who reported a disturbance outside the home on Monroe Street.

At that time, police arrested five teens for underage drinking outside the home and another a block away.

Several more party-goers scattered when police arrived, Oregon Police Chief Darin DeHaan said. Mt. Morris police and Ogle County deputies assisted at the scene.

The fight had occurred outside the house before police arrived in the early morning hours, DeHaan said.

The police who responded to the call did not see Williams, and none of the people there at the time mentioned that he had been injured, he said.

Williams was found unconscious and unresponsive inside the home at 8:19 a.m., after a second 911 call from a "father figure" of one of the teens who had spent the night at the home after the party, DeHaan said.

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