Former Illini player to stand trial for burglary charges

Updated: May 8, 2007, 5:26 PM ET
Associated Press

URBANA, Ill. -- A former Illinois football player accused of stealing wallets, computers and electronic devices will stand trial this month on burglary and theft charges.

Derrick McPhearson was given a May 21 trial date Tuesday. Co-defendant Jody Ellis agreed to plead guilty to a single burglary count, and the judge set a June 11 plea hearing.

McPhearson and Ellis were Illini wide receivers when they were arrested March 2 after police pulled over Ellis' car in Champaign after it allegedly left the scene of a minor traffic accident. Officers allegedly found the stolen items in the car.

Ellis, 20, of Evanston, and McPhearson, 21, of Hyattsville, Md., pleaded not guilty March 5 to four burglary charges and two theft charges, and were kicked off the team hours later. Both were in court Tuesday, but neither spoke.

Ellis' attorney, Ed Piraino, said his client tentatively agreed to plead guilty under a deal that likely would send him to boot camp for four months. State's Attorney Julia Rietz declined comment.

McPhearson's lawyer, Mark Lipton, did not comment after court and did not return a call later Tuesday.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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