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Mount Morris man pleads guilty to hate crime

Coltrain sentenced to 3 years in prison on charge stemming from Oregon fight

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT
Justin Coltrain

OREGON – A Mount Morris man received a 3-year prison term Tuesday after he pleaded guilty in Ogle County court to committing a hate crime.

The charge against Justin Coltrain, 33, stemmed from his involvement in an August fight at an Oregon house party – the same fight that resulted in the death of 18-year-old John Williams.

No one was ever charged directly in Williams' death, but nine people, including Coltrain, were charged with various crimes.

Matthew Steder, 22, of Mount Morris, was also charged with three counts of hate crimes, as well as aggravated battery.

Prosecutors charged Coltrain and Steder with hate crimes because they made racial slurs during the incident, State's Attorney Michael Rock said in a previous interview with Sauk Valley Media.

Steder will next appear in court on March 10.

During an inquest Nov. 8, Winnebago County Coroner Sue Fiduccia ruled Williams' death a homicide.

Inquests consist of a panel of six jurors who consider five different verdicts: accidental, suicide, homicide, undetermined, and unnatural causes.

Panel members hear information about the victim’s death and decide the manner of death.

“In this particular case, they felt that even though there was a confrontation with a lot of people, where there were a lot of people fighting, someone punched [Williams] in the face, which caused him to fall to the ground, which caused a head injury, which caused his death,” Fiduccia said.

Rock said that, according to witnesses, Williams chased another person, who then hit him in self-defense, which resulted in Williams' fall. Williams was then carried back into the house, where he remained for hours before receiving medical attention.

The fight happened about 3 a.m. Aug. 10, Oregon Police said.

Williams, then 18, was pronounced dead just after noon Aug. 11 at OSF St. Anthony Medical Center in Rockford.

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