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Second man sentenced to 60 years in killing of Susan and Antonio

Matthew Roberts, 21, enters Peoria County Circuit Court on Monday. He entered a plea of guilty but mentally ill for his role in the slaying last year of Susan Brill de Ramirez and Antonio Ramirez Barron, both Bradley University employees. [Andy Kravetz / pool photograph]

Peoria County Court accepted Matthew Roberts’ plea of “guilty but mentally ill” for one count of first-degree murder on Monday afternoon.

The 21-year-old was accused of helping Jose Ramirez murder his parents, Susan Brill de Ramirez and Antonio Ramirez Barron, who were employees of Bradley University.

Roberts was sentenced to 60 years in prison, the maximum penalty for first-degree murder in Illinois, with three years of supervised release. 

Roberts’ defense attorney Bill Loeffel read off his history of psychiatric problems, including diagnoses from a psychiatrist who declared Roberts does suffer from mental illness.  

“At the time of the murder, he was literally broken in body and soul,” Loeffel said.

Loeffel argued that Roberts had “limited ability to make independent decisions” when Ramirez asked him to help kill his parents. 

Julio Barron, Antonio Ramirez Barron’s brother, read a statement before the court with the hope that judge Katherin Gorman would reject the plea deal. 

“During the homicides, both defendants mocked the remains of my brother and his wife, they talked about dismembering them,” Julio Barron said. “On behalf of the family, I ask to reject the plea and sentence the defendant to life in prison.”

Ramirez was found guilty of  two counts of first-degree murders last week, and will be sentenced on Jan. 17.

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