2 men plead guilty to robbing, beating World War II veteran

August 6, 2013

Two of the suspects in the attack have pleaded guilty, and Cross, a World War II veteran, is relieved.

Porter Cross confines his walks to his backyard now. No longer does he practice his weekly ritual of walking to the corner store to pick up a lottery ticket as he did on an early August day a year ago.

"I remember I crossed that little street and that's the last I remember. The next thing I remember police and paramedics were there picking me up and putting me on the stretcher," said Porter Cross, World War II veteran.

Porter had been jumped from behind in broad daylight-- punched and kicked by three young men who knocked out his dentures, broke his hearing aids and stole his wallet. They were quickly caught, and a year later, two have entered guilty pleas. Michael Protho, 18, was promptly sentenced to eight years, and Rashon Williams, 21, is beginning a 12-year sentence. Williams had previously served half of a six-year sentence for aggravated robbery.

"I'm glad they plead guilty," said Cynthia Steward-Jones, Cross' daughter. "They owned up to what they had done."

"I didn't want to see them birds no more," said Cross.

Porter and his family are relieved there is no longer need for a trial, and that the legal process, in this case, moved comparatively fast. And though he has physically mended, for the most part, there is still a human cost.

"He's not trusting like he used to be. Everybody is a suspect now," said Steward-Jones.

"If I hear a little something, I turn around. But I didn't hear them. I don't know why it's like that," said Cross.

When Porter Cross was the age of his attackers, he was in the Navy, serving in World War II.

Last fall, with his daughter, and 85 other World War II vets he flew to Washington, D.C. as part of Honor Flight Chicago. A life's highlight, his daughter says.

He thinks about that as he walks his backyard, and inescapably, he thinks about that day a year ago.

"I've been feeling that way since then. But I'm here," said Cross.

Protho and Williams plead to robbery of a senior citizen, which carries stiffer penalties. Protho plead on Friday, and Williams plead on Monday. The third person involved in the attack was a juvenile at the time.

Porter Cross says he is walking a little slower these days, which is quite understandable. He turned 89 on Friday.

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