Woman pleads guilty in connection with theft at electronics store

Willisha Brown-Joiner
Posted: Jul. 19, 2013 5:43 pm Updated: Aug. 2, 2013 10:15 pm

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

A Springfield, Ill., woman faces the likelihood of being placed on probation after she pleaded guilty Friday to a charge of retail theft in connection with a recent incident at a Quincy electronics store.

Willisha Brown-Joiner, 21, entered the guilty plea in Adams County Circuit Court. The charge is a Class 3 felony that carries a maximum potential penalty of two to five years in prison. However, under the terms of a negotiated plea agreement, the prosecution is expected to recommend probation, according to Holly Henze, a public defender representing Brown-Joiner.

In exchange for the guilty plea, a conspiracy count against Brown-Joiner was dismissed.

Brown-Joiner is scheduled to be sentenced at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 26 at the Adams County Courthouse.

Brown-Joiner was one of five people from Springfield arrested April 22 in connection with the theft of laptops and other electronics from Best Buy, 6020 Broadway.

Four people allegedly entered the store and left with laptop computers and Beats by Dr. Dre headphones that night. Each of the four suspects allegedly stole one laptop computer. As a group, they collected 14 headphones. The electronics were valued at $6,933.96.

Henze said Brown-Joiner did not go into the store. She had rented the car used by the group to flee the area. Henze said Brown-Joiner was charged under the state's "accountability theory," which makes an individual responsible for a crime even though he or she wasn't the person who actually did it.

Earlier this month, Starlette S. Higgins, 25, of Springfield pleaded guilty to retail theft in connection with this case. She waived her right to a pre-sentence investigation and was sentenced to two years in the Illinois Department of Corrections by Judge William Mays. Higgins had a conspiracy charge dismissed as part of a plea agreement. Without the plea agreement, Higgins could have been sent to prison for up to 10 years.

Also this month, Leonski D. Higgins, 34, pleaded guilty to retail theft charges. He faces the possibility of being sent to prison for more than three years when he is sentenced Sept. 4.

Meanwhile, Alexia I. Robinson, 22, pleaded guilty to a retail theft charge and will be sentenced July 25, while Silva Harris, 30, has her case on the August jury trial docket.