Three U of I Football Players Arrested

Illinois football players Darta Lee , Howard (Hojo) Watkins, and Zarrian Holcombe were arrested on home invasion and armed robbery charges.

Champaign Police say Darta Lee, Zarrian Holcombe and Howard Watkins broke into a dorm room at Bromley Hall where some of them live. They say the three were wearing masks when they entered into a dorm room and demanded money.

When someone recognized one of their voices, police say Darta Lee took his mask off and claimed that it was all a joke. However, officers say the three still left with the money.

"It's not a very smart thing to do,” Champaign Police Department Deputy Chief Troy Daniels said. “to go into someone's house armed, and even with a fake gun with masks on.”

Police, parents and students we spoke with today all agree, it's no laughing matter.

"Regardless if he's a student or not, athlete or not, I mean he should be treated the same way anyone else would be treated that committed such a crime,” U of I parent Kevin Kirsh said, who was picking his daughter for the summer. “I think it's a terrible thing to happen at a school campus, but armed robbery is never a good thing."

These charges are a Class X Felony. It's the most serious felony offense on the books, short of first degree murder.

If convicted, the charges carry a mandatory sentence of six to 30 years in prison.

Illinois sophomore football players Darta Lee and Zarrian Holcombe were both arrested early Wednesday morning on home invasion and armed robbery charges.

They are both currently booked at Champaign County Jail and are scheduled for an arraignment hearing Thursday at 1:30 p.m.

University of Illinois Head Coach Lovie Smith released this statement earlier,

“Three members of the football program were involved in an incident early this morning. Darta Lee and Zarrian Holcombe were already suspended from team activities for violations of team rules, and will remain suspended. Howard Watkins has been suspended indefinitely from team activities. These allegations, if true, fail to live up to the standards we expect of our student-athletes. We continue to gather information and will take appropriate steps based upon what we learn.”

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