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updated: 9/16/2013 11:43 AM

Defense attorney against plea deal in Highland Park murder

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A Lake County defense attorney said he is against allowing his client to accept a 25-year plea deal in the murder of a Highland Park man.

In exchange for a guilty plea, prosecutors have offered Philip Vatamanivc, 17, of Highland Park, a prison sentence of 20 years for armed robbery and a consecutive term of 5 years for concealment of murder.

However, defense attorney Robert Ritacca of Waukegan said he was "very, very upset" with the offer and would advise his client against accepting the deal.

"I have a young kid here who was not involved with what happened," Ritacca said. "(The state) offered 20 years, then said he could get good time credit? I refuse to accept that."

Vatamanivc, 20-year-old Benjamin Schenk of Highwood and 17-year-old Michael Coffee of Highland Park, were each charged with first-degree murder in the death of 20-year-old Colin Nutter of Highland Park.

Police said Coffee, Schenk and Vatamanivc climbed into Nutter's Dodge Stratus on June 3 to purchase marijuana, and Schenk shot Nutter in the back of the head.

Police say Vatamanivc and Schenk moved Nutter's body to the trunk, then drove the vehicle to Wilmette, where they dumped the body along an expressway frontage road.

The three took the car to Highwood to clean it, then drove it to Chicago and abandoned it.

All three have pleaded not guilty to the crime, and are each held on $5 million bail in the Lake County jail.

Ritacca and Vatamanivc are due back in court Sept. 27 to further discuss the case.

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