Coltrain to judge: ‘I’m not a troublemaker’

Man charged with hate crime makes court appearance in Ogle County

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT
Justin Coltrain
Matthew Steder

OREGON – A Mount Morris man charged with a hate crime and battery told an Ogle County judge Monday that he is not a troublemaker.

Justin W. Coltrain, 33, is one of seven people who were charged last week in connection with a fight at an Aug. 10 underage drinking party at which an Oregon teen was hit and later died from his injuries.

Coltrain faces one hate crime charge, while Matthew Steder, 22, of Mount Morris, is charged with three counts of a hate crime, a Class 4 felony.

None of the charges are directly related to the death of Jonathan Williams, who was 18 at the time.

“I’m not a trouble-maker,” Coltrain said after his lengthy criminal history was recounted by Assistant State’s Attorney Josh Versluys in a hearing before Judge Robert Hanson.

Coltrain is accused of making racial slurs to another partygoer and striking him at the party.

Ogle County State’s Attorney Michael Rock said the racial slurs were directed at an African American.

Coltrain’s adult criminal history dates back to 2000 and includes aggravated battery and burglary charges.

He told Hanson that he did not commit all the crimes he has been accused of, but pleaded guilty just to get out of jail.

Hanson left Coltrain’s bond at $100,000, saying he is concerned about Coltrain’s history of “significant batteries.”

“You went to the Department of Corrections for some of them,” Hanson said.

Coltrain replied that he has put that all behind him.

“They’re charging the wrong people,” he said.

Hanson advised him to get an attorney and to discuss what happened at the party only with his attorney. Coltrain talked to a Sauk Valley Media reporter Thursday, the day after his arrest.

A woman who identified herself as the mother of Coltrain’s ex-girlfriend urged Hanson on Monday to lower the bond.

“He’s not a flight risk,” said the woman, who would not give her name after the hearing. “He lived at my house for 2 1/2 years, and we had no problems.”

She said she is trying to hire an attorney for Coltrain but can’t afford the $10,000 bail plus a retainer for an attorney of $2,000 to $3,000.

Coltrain, who had bruises under both eyes, told Hanson he was attacked by another inmate in the Ogle County Jail after his arrest Wednesday and wants to press charges against the person who hit him.

Hanson told him to discuss that with his attorney.

Coltrain and Steder are being held in the Whiteside County Jail. Coltrain was transferred there Wednesday night.

Ogle County Sheriff Michael Harn declined to comment on the alleged incident at the jail.

However, Coltrain told SVM that he was attacked by black inmates sharing his cell after they heard a TV news report that said he was charged with a hate crime. 

Steder also appeared before Hanson.

He also is charged with one count of aggravated battery, as well as three counts of battery, in additional to hate crimes.

Both Coltrain and Steder are next scheduled to be in court Friday.

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