A Waukegan man pleaded guilty to a lesser charge in connection with the murder of a 42-year-old man during a drug deal that went bad.
Steven Gee, 23, of the 1700 block of North McAree Road, faces between 10 and 20 years in prison after pleading guilty Thursday to one count of home invasion in front of Lake County Judge Victoria Rossetti.
Contact information ( * required )
Under the terms of the plea agreement, prosecutors capped the potential prison sentence at 20 years. Had Gee been found guilty at trial, authorities said, he could have been sentenced to 30 years behind bars.
Gee must serve 50 percent of the sentence at the Illinois Department of Corrections before being eligible for parole. He will be placed on three years probation after his release, authorities said.
Gee also must testify in any potential murder trials against Waukegan co-defendants Anthony Brito, 20, of 2100 block of Grove Avenue, and Armondo Sanders, 19, of 1700 block of North McAree Road, authorities said.
All three men were charged with eight counts of murder after Randy Hardy was shot to death Dec. 13, during a drug deal in the hallway of his apartment complex in the 1600 block of Berwick Boulevard.
Sanders faces up to 75 years in prison if found guilty of the charges against him. Brito faces life in prison.
Brito could receive the harsher sentence because he pulled the trigger that killed Hardy, authorities said.
Both men remain held in Lake County jail in lieu of $1 million bail.
Authorities said Gee, Brito and Sanders arranged a drug deal with Hardy at Hardy's apartment. While Gee waited outside of the apartment building, Brito and Sanders knocked on Hardy's door, then displayed a handgun when the victim answered, authorities said.
Hardy was shot during a scuffle while his children were inside the apartment, authorities said.
All three suspects fled, but several apartment complex residents heard the gunshots and called Waukegan police. Officers arrested Brito, Gee, and Sanders in a park near Clearbrook Elementary School that evening.
Gee is due back in court May 28 to set a sentencing hearing.