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updated: 10/6/2017 8:40 PM

Round Lake man admits guilt to lesser charge in Allendale death

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  • James Davis

    James Davis

  • Shaquan Allen

    Shaquan Allen

 
 

A Round Lake man accused of killing a teenager at a Lake Villa home for troubled youths is expected to spend less than 24 hours in prison after agreeing to a plea deal in court Friday.

James Davis, 39, pleaded guilty to one count of obstruction of justice for his role in the death of Shaquan Allen during a behavioral episode at Allendale Association on March 30, 2016.

As part of the negotiated plea agreement with prosecutors, Davis was sentenced to three years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. Because Davis has already served 554 days in Lake County jail and is awarded day-for-day good time credit at the department of corrections, he will be taken to and released from prison Tuesday, officials said.

He was also sentenced to one year of parole and court fines.

The involuntary manslaughter charge against Davis was dropped in exchange for the plea deal approved by Lake County Judge Daniel Shanes.

Defense attorney Kevin Malia said after the hearing the fatal altercation with Allen was a case of self-defense.

"This was a tragic accident," Malia said. "James was defending himself and his co-worker that night. The fact the most serious charges were dismissed reflect it was clear he was acting in self-defense when this tragic incident occurred."

Assistant Lake County State's Attorney Lauren Kalcheim-Rothenberg said the plea deal and prison sentence were reviewed and approved by Shaquan Allen's mother before being accepted in court. Allen's mother declined to attend the hearing or provide a victim impact statement on behalf of the family, Kalcheim-Rothenberg said.

Attempts to reach the family's attorney were unsuccessful Friday.

Authorities said Allen's death happened during an altercation with Davis and then fellow Allendale employee Justin Serak outside Allen's room at the campus.

Kalcheim-Rothenberg said Allen, 16, of Chicago, and Serak argued over Allen's punishment of an early bedtime because of a behavioral issue that day. He refused to return to his room, so Serak called Davis for assistance, Kalcheim-Rothenberg said in court. Allen said Davis and Serak would need to "make" him comply.

Serak grabbed Allen's arm to lead him to his room, but Allen lunged at Serak and they began to wrestle, Kalcheim-Rothenberg said. Davis grabbed Allen around his torso and applied a physical restraint while Serak grabbed Allen's legs.

Authorities said the restraint was a chokehold, and Allen asphyxiated and died. He was taken to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, where he was later pronounced dead, officials said.

Davis and Serak phoned police but told investigators Allen slipped on a wet floor during the scuffle, Kalcheim-Rothenberg said. Witnesses contradicted those claims, leading authorities to charge Davis with involuntary manslaughter.

Serak, 29, of Grafton, Wisconsin, later admitted to police he and Davis made up the story so the death would appear accidental, officials said. Serak was charged with obstruction of justice, but it was dropped after he agreed to testify against Davis.

Friday's plea deal came two weeks after a hearing where Shanes ruled Malia could introduce at trial about a dozen examples of Allen's prior violent episodes during his three-year stay at Allendale. Per law, Malia has a right to introduce those past instances to show Davis was acting in self-defense. The incidents included Allen hitting a staff member with a chair, biting a staff member during a restraint, and threatening a Kenosha County police officer.

"James is grateful the Lake County state's attorney's office has done the right thing in this case after reviewing all the evidence," Malia said. "James is relieved to have this case over and is looking forward to being home with his family."

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