Five family members provided character testimony and requested probation for the third defendant charged in a November 2016 botched robbery and shooting, but the Department of Corrections Sentencing Assessment Report included details that ultimately led to a sentence of 120-day Department of Corrections institutional treatment with a 10-year prison term backup.

Five family members provided character testimony and requested probation for the third defendant charged in a November 2016 botched robbery and shooting, but the Department of Corrections Sentencing Assessment Report included details that ultimately led to a sentence of 120-day Department of Corrections institutional treatment with a 10-year prison term backup.

Thomas P. Willemarck III, 19, of Hannibal, appeared in person before Judge Rachel Bringer Shepherd in Marion County Circuit Court on Friday, April 7. Special public defender Neil Barron represented the defendant. Marion County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Robert Rapp represented the state. Shepherd said there was a partial plea agreement, with the state recommending a cap of 10 years in prison, and the defense requesting a suspended imposition of the sentence and probation.

Willemarck’s Class B felony charge of attempted robbery stemmed from a Nov. 20 botched robbery at Ronald Gillum Jr.’s home at 1737 Park Ave. Court documents alleged that Willemarck, John Newman and two co-defendants — Willemarck’s younger brother, Austin Anderson, and Stephanie Pettitt — planned to rob Gillum. According to the probable cause statement, Willemarck and Newman armed themselves with guns, while Anderson carried a “baseball bat type” object and Pettitt acted “as a look out.” Newman knocked on the door and shot Gillum in the abdomen after the door opened. The robbery attempt was foiled when Gillum managed to close the door. The four fled the scene.

During the sentencing hearing, Barron called Willemarck, his mother, father, God-uncle and aunt to the stand. Willemarck’s mother, Bonnie Duke, said her son was a “good boy” who would help everybody. She said that his co-defendant in the case, John Newman, was a bad influence on her son.

Thomas Willemarck Jr. approached next, testifying that if the court approved probation, his son would be living at his home and working with him in his construction business. He characterized his son as a person who “follows whatever people tell him to do,” noting he couldn’t believe the charge of attempted robbery his son faced. Jeff Tiffany, Willemarck’s God-uncle, agreed, saying the charge was out of character for the defendant.

Willemarck’s aunt, Angie Brokaw, said her nephew stayed for a week with her, discussing the pursuit of his GED and proving his ability to work hard to his father and others. Rapp asked Brokaw and Tiffany if they had been with Willemarck on the night the incident occurred, and they both said they had not. Willemarck prepared a statement where he apologized to the victim and his family and said he took responsibility for his actions. Rapp asked him if he had lied about where the handgun came from, and Willemarck said he didn’t remember. Rapp said the defendant initially reported that he took the gun from an unlocked car before admitting that he took it from his mother’s possession. During a Sentencing Assessment Report, it’s crucial to provide truthful answers for the best outcome, Rapp said.

Barron asked the court to consider that Newman allegedly pulled the trigger that injured Gillum. He said Willemarck had no previous criminal history and noted Pettitt’s probation sentence.

But Shepherd found that Sentencing Assessment Report included statements from Willemarck that the group intended to steal marijuana at Gillum’s home. According to the report, he also stated he had decided to smoke marijuana daily and had used methamphetamine, alcohol and cocaine in the past. Shepherd said the court also considered the fact that Willemarck dropped out of high school as a sophomore.

After Shepherd announced the sentence, she told Willemarck that he must successfully complete the 120-day treatment program, or he would serve the 10-year prison sentence. She also required a two-year structured living arrangement, like Teen Challenge or Heartland programs. Willemarck must obtain his GED, and he is barred from any contact with co-defendants in the case. She said a future hearing would be held for retribution for the victim.

Willemarck was transferred to the custody of the Marion County Sheriff’s Department. He will remain lodged in the Marion County Jail until his transfer to a Department of Corrections facility on Monday, May 1.

Co-defendant Stephanie Pettitt received a five-year probation sentence in exchange for her cooperation against the other defendants. Newman faces felony charges of attempted robbery, first-degree assault and armed criminal action. His next hearing for entering a plea or setting trial dates will be before Shepherd at 9:30 a.m. Monday, April 17.

Reach reporter Trevor McDonald at trevor.mcdonald@courierpost.com