“I never want to see La Salle County again.”
That sentiment was expressed Friday by Streator man Dezzan D. Phillips, who was ordered to prison for causing the death of 28-year-old Nicholas Puyear, of Peru, in a confrontation Nov. 10 at 516 on First, a bar at 516 First St., La Salle.
Phillips punched Puyear in his temple, which knocked him down and killed him.
“I’ve done a lot of wrong in my life, but I want to be a changed man. La Salle County has brought so much harm to me. I’d like to never see La Salle County again,” the 26-year-old Phillips said Friday in court.
Phillips also said he felt “sorrow” for Puyear’s family.
Chief Judge H. Chris Ryan Jr. sentenced Phillips to seven years in prison, but Phillips could parole in less than three years. Phillips has been in prison before, having a number of prior convictions, including ones for cocaine dealing, aggravated battery and illegal possession of a gun. Prosecutor Greg Sticka summed up Phillips’ record as a bad combination — “drugs, weapons and violence.”
Phillips and Puyear got into an altercation at the bar over a woman, who had been Puyear’s on-again, off-again girlfirend, and was flirting with Phillips.
Phillips and his attorney, Ryan Hamer, both said Puyear provoked Phillips by slinging slurs at him, but Phillips said he never meant to kill Puyear.
Instead, he said he was at the bar to “have a good time.” Phillips also acknowledged he has received counseling for his anger.
Sticka pointed out Phillips hit Puyear from Puyear’s blind side.
In issuing sentence, Ryan accepted Phillips didn’t intend to kill Puyear, but noted Phillips’ act nonetheless caused it to happen.
“It was a bad place, a bad time,” Ryan observed.
According to statements in court, Phillips has a minimal job history and minimal contact with his two children, but obtained a GED and attended Illinois Valley Community College for a time. After the fight that left Puyear dead, Phillips went to Tennessee, where he was arrested about one month later.