22-year-old Ashanti Roberts, of Chicago, is guilty in the murder of 33-year-old Maria De La Torre of Streator during an attempted robbery last year.
Roberts drove the getaway car.
Judge H. Chris Ryan ruled Friday that there is enough evidence to show that Roberts knew what she was doing and expected a cut of the robbery’s proceeds.
Because the robbery led to someone being shot and killed, Roberts can be convicted for murder even if she didn’t pull the trigger.
Roberts first claimed she was forced into the robbery. Later, she said that she wasn’t forced, but didn’t know she was driving to a robbery.
Messages on her phone with co-defendant 25-year-old Hashim Waite, also of Chicago, suggest that she was in on the plan. That was supported by testimony from Waite himself.
Waite also testified against the third co-defendant 17-year-old Tamil Adams, of Dolton. Adams is said to be the one who fired the gun that killed De La Torre. A jury convicted him back in February. He’s serving a 35-year sentence.
Earlier Friday, Waite pleaded guilty in a deal with prosecutors to home invasion instead of murder. He’ll serve a 30-year sentence with day-for-day good behavior time off.
Roberts is facing a 35-75 year sentence with no time off for good behavior. Normally murder convictions carry a 20-60 year sentencing range, but because a gun was involved 15-years is added.
Her sentencing is set for July.
She cried as she was led out of the courtroom.
Prosecutor Matt Kidder is pleased with the verdict. He said it provides some justice for De La Torre’s family.
WCMY has reached out to Roberts’ public defender for comment.