Allendale employee pleads not guilty to charges in teen's death

  • James Davis, 37, of Round Lake, charged with involuntary manslaughter and obstruction of justice in the death of Shaquan Allen, 16, of Chicago, at Allendale Association in Lake Villa.

    James Davis, 37, of Round Lake, charged with involuntary manslaughter and obstruction of justice in the death of Shaquan Allen, 16, of Chicago, at Allendale Association in Lake Villa.

 
 
Updated 5/3/2016 1:49 PM

An employee at a Lake Villa home for youth with emotional and behavioral disabilities pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a charge he fatally choked a teen there during a struggle March 30.

James Davis, 37, of Round Lake, is scheduled to face trial July 18 on charges of involuntary manslaughter and obstruction of justice stemming from the death of 16-year-old Shaquan Allen at an Allendale Association home. The obstruction charge alleges Davis lied to police during an investigation into the Chicago teen's death.

 

Defense attorney Kevin Malia did not comment after his client's arraignment Tuesday in front of Judge Daniel Shanes. Davis remains held in Lake County jail on $500,000 bail, but Malia indicated he'll ask Shanes to review Davis' bond at his next court appearance.

Authorities say Davis and co-worker Justin Serak, 27, of Grafton, Wisconsin, were trying to get Shaquan back to his room after a behavioral episode March 30. Serak grabbed the teen's legs and Davis his upper body, applying a chokehold, authorities say.

Lake Villa police and rescue were called to Allendale campus at 9:58 p.m. that night in response to a reported injury. Shaquan was taken to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, where he was pronounced dead at 11:10 p.m., officials said.

Officials say 15 minutes passed between the time the teen became unconscious and Allendale staff called 911.

Davis and Serak initially told investigators that Allen spilled a cup of water, then slipped on the wet floor, officials said. However, 16 witnesses contradicted that statement, leading to the charges.

Serak later admitted to police that he and Davis came up with the story to make Allen's death appear to be an accident, officials said. He's charged with obstruction of justice, and due back in court on May 12. He is free after posting $50,000 bail.

Davis is due back in court on May 24.

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