URBANA — A Champaign County jail inmate was convicted Friday of striking another inmate with a broom handle in August.
A jury deliberated about two hours before deciding that Malik Chapple, 28, of Champaign, was guilty of one count of aggravated battery for striking a man he apparently meant to hit but not guilty of another count of aggravated battery for hitting a second inmate with the follow-through of his swing.
In a brief trial that began Friday morning in Judge Randy Rosenbaum’s courtroom, Assistant State’s Attorney Chris McCallum presented testimony from three jail employees about the Aug. 21 incident at the satellite jail.
Officer Abbigail Allen testified she was at her desk several yards away from where Chapple was pushing a broom back and forth in a crowded day room when she saw fellow inmate Carey Pettigrew stand up and get into an apparent verbal argument with Chapple.
Chapple then backed up and, as he did, he unscrewed the handle from the broom, then swung it like a bat, hitting Pettigrew, 36, and catching another nearby inmate as he completed the swing.
Neither man was hurt badly, and Pettigrew responded by grabbing Chapple.
Allen tested she called for other officers and several of them broke up the fight, which resulted in Chapple being brought down with a Taser.
Asked by Chapple’s attorney, Christopher Tichenor, if she saw Pettigrew “advance on Malik,” Allen said she did not.
She said she did not see Pettigrew do anything aggressive prior to Chapple hitting him with the broomstick.
Jurors saw about two minutes and 20 seconds worth of video that showed Chapple sweeping, then talking to Pettigrew, unscrewing the handle and swinging it. The other inmate who was hit grabbed his head right after the swing.
McCallum argued that the case was not complicated and that the jurors saw the video that supported the charges.
Tichenor argued that it was possible that Pettigrew’s injuries happened in the fracas that followed. Chapple chose not to testify.
At the time of the fight, Chapple had been jailed for 242 days on charges of unlawful use of weapons by a felon in connection with a shootout at a July 2021 funeral luncheon outside the American Legion post on North Hickory Street in Champaign. He’s still waiting to be tried on that case.
Pettigrew is in jail on three different armed-robbery cases and has been there for 338 days. He’s due in court Feb. 1 on those cases.
Rosenbaum set sentencing for March 15. Because of prior convictions, Chapple faces a potential extended sentence of between two and 10 years in prison.