It began with the ring of a doorbell.
That lured a 70-year-old man to the front door of his home in the 23700 block of Jonathan Lane in Crete last year, where he found a stranger offering to return a canvas bag.
Suddenly the visitor was joined by three masked men, and all four shoved their way through the open doorway. Two of them beat the senior citizen with baseball bats – one aluminum, one wood – and they eventually broke his kneecap.
One of the masked men, according to police and prosecutors, was the victim’s grandson, 19-year-old Paul J. Evans III of Chicago. Evans pleaded guilty to the home invasion this month, and Will County Judge Amy Bertani-Tomczak sentenced him Wednesday to 12 years in prison.
“You don’t look like a person who would do this,” Bertani-Tomczak told Evans. “But you did.”
The attack came on July 2, 2010. Evans’ grandmother heard her husband’s cries that day, police said, and locked herself in a bedroom. She grabbed a gun and called 911, but the intruders managed to force their way into the bedroom and disarm her.
They fled when they realized she’d called police, but they took a cell phone, a laptop and the gun. Police said they also took a purse full of credit cards.
Two of those credit cards would soon be used at a Burlington Coat Factory, police said, and family members identified Evans from the store’s surveillance video.
Records show Jeffery Burks, 21, of Chicago was also charged in connection with the break-in last year and is awaiting trial. Chakaris Evans, 21, and Rashid J. McCarthy, 20, were charged with aggravated identity theft for using the grandmother’s credit cards but haven’t been arrested.
Bertani-Tomczak noted Paul Evans’ lengthy criminal history as a juvenile and conviction for unlawful use of a weapon as an adult. She also seemed to set aside a suggestion by his attorney that he never actually beat his grandfather.
“You allowed those other people to do it,” Bertani-Tomczak said.
Paul Evans said he’d not only made a mistake, but he wants to prove to his family he can be a different person. He said he knows he can change, and he knows he needs help.
He said he’s also learned not to be so trusting of his friends.
“I see where that’s getting me,” he said.