Because of course they did.
Wednesday morning, three Illinois football players, offensive linemen Darta Lee and Howard Watkins and wide receiver Zarrian Holcombe, were arrested on charges of home invasion and armed robbery. Thursday, the trio was officially arraigned on felony charges of residential burglary and aggravated robbery.
The players, however, claimed that, according to first assistant state’s attorney Steve Ziegler, they were merely pulling a prank on the 19-year-old dormitory resident. From the Champaign News-Gazette:
Ziegler said the trio is accused of entering the room of another 19-year-old man who lived in Bromley Hall and threatening him with a pellet gun just before 1 a.m. Wednesday in what they told police was a “prank or a joke.”
“(The victim) was in bed with his door closed but not locked when three guys come into his room. They are all wearing dark clothing and they are all masked,” Ziegler said. “One of them produces what he believed to be a gun. Later he finds a BB gun on the floor of his room.”
Ziegler said from his review of a synopsis provided him by Champaign police, it’s believed that Holcombe was holding the BB gun while Lee went through dresser drawers and Watkins went through the man’s wallet, which was on a table.
“He recognizes Holcombe and Lee as residents of Bromley,” said Ziegler. “He says he calls them by name and they run out of his room. He later finds cash missing. What happens to Watkins is not clear.”
Ziegler said after the victim realized he knew two of the alleged intruders, he followed them into the hall.
“At that point, they are not wearing masks anymore so he knows it’s them,” Ziegler said.
The charges carry a mandatory prison term of 4-15 years on each count if they’re found guilty. Bond has been set at $150,000 for each player.
Lee and Holcombe, who were suspended prior to their arrests, remain suspended. Watkins has been indefinitely suspended from all team activities as well.
Lee started two of the six games he played his true freshman season last year, while Holcombe played in seven his first season with the Illini. Watkins was a three-star 2017 signee who enrolled early at the school.