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SYCAMORE – The alleged gunman in the April shooting of a Northern Illinois University football player pleaded not guilty Tuesday to the charges he faces – including one count that carries a potential penalty of life in prison.
Mark Orozco, 24, entered a not guilty plea Tuesday during an arraignment hearing at the DeKalb County Courthouse. An arraignment is a formal reading of the charges a person is facing, and it often is the time when a suspect enters a plea.
The plea was entered by Todd Cohen, an attorney with McNamee & Mahoney, the Dundee law firm that represents Orozco.
During the hearing, prosecutor Phil Montgomery from the DeKalb County State’s Attorney’s Office said the state has handed over 1,200 pages of evidence to Orozco’s attorney, including police reports, DVDs and hospital records.
Authorities say Orozco and Richard Van Arsdale III were responsible for a late-night shooting April 5 that left NIU linebacker Devon Butler with a bullet in his back that collapsed his lung. Butler spent two weeks in the hospital.
Orozco was indicted in May on nine counts, including three counts of attempted first-degree murder, one count of aggravated battery with a firearm and two counts of armed violence. He was also indicted on two counts of aggravated discharge of a firearm and unlawful delivery of marijuana.
Stuckert read all nine counts to Orozco during Tuesday’s arraignment. Each of the three attempted first-degree murder charges carry different penalties. All three are Class X felonies.
In Count 1, Orozco is alleged to have personally discharged a firearm, causing great bodily harm. That allegation carries an additional potential penalty of 25 years to life in prison. If convicted of that charge, Orozco would face a minimum sentence of 31 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.
Another count, alleging a Class X felony was committed with the use of a firearm, carries a minimum sentence of 21 years in prison and a maximum term of 30 years. The other attempted first-degree murder count carries a penalty of six to 30 years.
Two other Class X felony charges, both for armed violence, carry sentencing ranges of 20-30 years and 25-40 years.
Van Arsdale III was also indicted in May on seven counts, including two counts of attempted first-degree murder, one count of aggravated battery with a firearm, one count of armed violence, two counts of aggravated discharge of a firearm and one count of unlawful delivery of marijuana. He is scheduled to be arraigned July 11.
Both men are in the DeKalb County Jail on $1 million bond each, which means they would have to post 10 percent, or $100,000, to be released.
DeKalb Police Chief Bill Feithen has said the shooting was in retaliation for a drug deal that happened earlier April 5 in which Orozco and Van Arsdale III supplied between 10-30 grams of marijuana to two other people, but they did not get paid. According to police, the pair who stole the drugs went to apartment No. 3 of 1009 Aspen Court and hid.
Authorities have said that several hours later, Orozco fired four rounds from a 9 mm gun into that apartment while riding in a vehicle driven by Van Arsdale III. Butler was in that apartment visiting friends. Police have stressed that Butler was not involved in or had knowledge of the drug transaction.
A third person arrested in connection with the incident – Ian Robertson, 19, of North Riverside – is charged with possession of marijuana with intent to deliver. Police say Robertson was not in the vehicle at the time of the shooting.
Butler spent two weeks in the hospital after being shot in the back. NIU has said the linebacker will not play in the 2011 season.
Orozco is next due in court Aug. 30.