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home : news : local   July 27, 2015

7/26/2014 6:00:00 AM
Sandy Ford shooting trial likely to be postponed


Tom Collins
NewsTribune Senior Reporter



OTTAWA — It looks as if we’ll have to wait a little longer to find out what happened last summer on the Sandy Ford bridge near Leonore.

Richard Felton, 29, of Chicago (also listed in Tonica) appeared Friday and reaffirmed that, yes, he intends to represent himself at trial.

Both trials, that is. Felton is accused not only of nearly killing Jeremy Wade, who was shot in the face and then fell from the bridge, but also accused in participating in an Ottawa home invasion, during which a 92-year-old woman was bound to her bed. The separate incidents demand separate trials.

And Felton’s decision to forgo a lawyer has effectively forced prosecutors to try Felton first with home invasion — “She (the victim) is not getting any younger,” prosecutor Greg Sticka said — before a jury gets to hear what happened on the Sandy Ford bridge.

For now, Felton remains scheduled for trial on Aug. 25. However, he’ll return to La Salle County Circuit Court on Aug. 8 for a status hearing, at which time he’s likely going to ask for a continuance — unless, of course, he changes his mind and asks for the public defender.

Felton previously split (not amicably) with Chicago attorney Myron Goldstin and announced he’d act as his own lawyer. Judge Cynthia M. Raccuglia let Goldstin out but then brought Felton back up Friday to try and change his mind about going it alone.

“I’ll be a broken record (at trial) and say things like ‘You know, if you had a lawyer, you wouldn’t have this problem…’” the judge warned him.

Felton politely stood firm. He indicated he followed the news accounts of how his cousin, Jimmy Members, elected the public defender and was convicted in the Ottawa home invasion, anyway. Felton said he concluded he was better off trying the case himself.

Raccuglia acknowledged Felton was intelligent to grasp certain issues but would enter the trial lagging hopelessly behind the prosecutors in knowledge of both the law and the complex rules of evidence, to say nothing of experience.

To that, Felton somewhat sheepishly acknowledged it wasn’t his first rodeo.

“It’s nothing to be proud of,” he allowed, “but experience was the best teacher.”

Felton will pay a steep price if he bets wrong.

He faces a total of four felonies, all of which preclude probation, stemming from the bridge shooting and breaking into the 92-year-old’s home. The sentencing ranges are complex but include the possibility he’d serve back-to-back sentences if convicted of shooting Wade and the home invasion.

By Raccuglia’s math, Felton could face 91 years to life if convicted of felonies at both trials.

Tom Collins can be reached at (815) 220-6930 or courtreporter@newstrib.com.










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