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Gang rap videos used in murder trial still questionable

Champaign County Judge Tom Difanis issued a ruling that two violent gang rap videos cannot be used as “substantive evidence” in the defense of 18-year-old Champaign, Illinois resident Shamario Brown. Brown was charged with first-degree murder and aggravated discharge of a firearm, leading the judge to say the videos can be used to discredit the credibility of state witnesses.

Brown is set to be tried on Monday, January 30 for the June 12, 2016 murder of 30-year-old Champaign resident Ericka Cox-Bailey, who died when a bullet from a passing car struck her as she was walking along Francis Drive near McKinley Avenue. Police officials say the shots that killed her were intended for members of a rival gang. Champaign resident Oshay Cotton and East Macon, Georgia resident Takario Greene, both 19, who were inside the passing car with Brown, were also charged for Cox-Bailey’s murder.

We at the Bruno Law Offices are problem solvers and are great with overcoming challenges. As such, individuals who are charged with criminal offenses should know we will come up with comprehensive and strategic legal defenses. Call our Champaign offices today at (217) 328-6000 to discuss your case.


Jury selection for Des Plaines man accused of attempted murder now underway

Jury selection for the trial of 20-year-old Des Plaines resident Daniel Dion began last Monday, October 31. Dion made a not guilty plea by reason of insanity to attempted murder charges in relation to allegedly stabbing and critically wounding a 24-year-old Vernon Hills woman outside the Century Theater in Deer Park.

Although the burden of the proof of the crime always lies with the prosecution, proving an insanity plea is on the shoulders of the defense. Under Illinois law, a jury or judge can find an accused not guilty by reason of insanity if the accused is ailing from a disease or defect of the mind “such that he lacks the substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct.”

Our criminal defense lawyers at the Bruno Law Offices, who provide legal services in Champaign-Urbana and other areas in Illinois, handle criminal defense cases such as gun crimes, violent crime, homicide and murder charges, and battery, among others. Call our offices today at (217) 328-6000 to learn more about your legal options and discuss your situation.


Man walks free after DNA evidence exonerates him from murder charge

Fifty-five-year-old Chicago resident Mark Maxson was released from Stateville Correctional Center last Tuesday, September 27 after a Cook County judge ruled Maxson did not commit his crimes. Maxson went to jail for the 1992 rape and murder of six-year-old boy Lindsey Murdock, but DNA evidence showed he was actually innocent.

The Cook County District Attorney’s Office supported exonerating Maxson, noting that no physical evidence linked Maxson to the crime. In addition, defense attorney Elliott Zinger said a re-investigation discovered Maxson’s confession was merely coerced by members of the Chicago Police Department under John Burge.

If you are a resident of Champaign-Urbana or another area of Illinois and you are in danger of going to prison for a crime such as a sexual offense, murder, or assault, trust the attorneys at the Bruno Law Offices to competently handle your case. Call our offices today at (217) 328-6000 to schedule an initial appointment with a qualified member of our legal team.


Murderer of Danville woman sentenced to 17 years

Forty-five-year-old Danville resident George Harold Chapman faced first-degree murder charges in the death of 43-year-old Danville resident Angelica Vasquez. Around 7:45 a.m. on Sept. 27, 2011, Vasquez was found burned and half-clothed on the property of an abandoned farmhouse at 1315 N. Rising Road, just north of Bradley Avenue near Champaign.

In June, Vermillion County Circuit Judge Tom O’Shaughnessy sentenced Chapman to 17 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections after Chapman pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of second-degree murder. Assistant State’s Attorney Sandy Lawlyes, who negotiated the plea agreement, said Chapman believed that his crime was done in self-defense. Lawlyes further claimed she “was concerned about a lesser offense being found by the jury after presentation by the defense…[and] felt the circumstances warranted a plea that would guarantee a guilty verdict.”

Murder charges are extremely serious allegations that can have debilitating effects on all aspects of your life. The criminal defense attorneys at The Bruno Law Offices in Champaign offer the most aggressive criminal defense strategies possible. Call our offices today at (217) 328-6000 to learn more.


Witness denies claims that she implicated defendant in murder trial

Twenty-two-year-old Champaign resident Dashiona Fonville was arrested so that a jury could hear her testimony in a murder trial. According to The News-Gazette, Fonville claimed at least 120 times on Wednesday, June 22 that she could not remember much of her former testimony concerning the murder. Fonville originally claimed 22-year-old Champaign resident Brandon Collier was involved in the fatal shooting of 30-year-old Terron Jackson.

Judge Tom Difanis said the jury will have access to the recorded statement that Fonville gave to Champaign police investigators Andre Davis and Brad Krauel to have more information on the case. Another witness, 23-year-old Charnise Caraway, has also said that Collier was the shooter.

The attorneys at the Bruno Law Offices provide legal services to our clients in the Champaign-Urbana area and other areas of East Central Illinois. We are here to help people charged with criminal offenses in the state of Illinois, and we are committed to delivering high-quality criminal defense representation. Call our offices today at (217) 328-6000 to discuss your legal options.


Danville man gets 33 years in prison for second-degree murder

Thirty-eight-year-old Danville, Illinois resident Jason Roberts  was sentenced to 33 years in prison on Tuesday, May 31. His crimes include striking Dylan Scales, the boyfriend of his ex-girlfriend Michelle Crawley, with a baseball bat, and fatally hitting Robert Collins with his vehicle, in October 2015.

Roberts was supposed to stand trial on first-degree murder and aggravated driving under the influence charges for the Oct. 22, 2015 death of Collins, but his charges were reduced to second-degree murder after he made a guilty plea. Roberts was also charged with aggravated battery for striking Scales on Oct. 21, 2015, just a few hours after the incident with Collins.

The attorneys at the Bruno Law Offices provide legal services for our clients in Champaign-Urbana and other areas of Illinois. We handle criminal defense cases ranging from theft and burglary to drug possession and homicide. If you have been convicted of a crime, call our offices today at (217) 328-6000 to discuss your legal options.


Chicago police officer assigned $1.5M bond in Laquan McDonald case

Thirty-seven-year-old Chicago, Illinois police officer Jason Van Dyke, who was charged on Tuesday, November 24 with first degree murder in relation to the killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald on Oct. 20, 2014, was assigned a bond of $1.5 million on Monday, November 30.

Local authorities released dash cam video footage showing McDonald walking along a Chicago street on the southwest side of the city and Van Dyke repeatedly shooting him. McDonald was reportedly carrying a small knife with him at the time of the shooting, and blood tests taken during the autopsy have revealed traces of PCP in his system, suggestions he was high at the time.

Dan Herbert, Van Dyke’s legal counsel, said the set bond is being taken as a good sign, considering that the judge ordered Van Dyke held without bail just last week. The newest development comes after Herbert argued that his client is not a flight risk.

If you are facing criminal charges in Champaign, contact the legal team at the Bruno Law Offices by calling (217) 328-6000 today. Our criminal defense attorneys will work to protect you and your rights during this time.


Man charged with first-degree murder sentenced to 65 years

Thirty-year-old Champaign County resident Micah Hopkins was sentenced to 65 years for a first-degree murder charge after shooting his friend, 26-year-old Allen Redding, in June 2014, according to the News-Gazette on May 15.

Court documents showed that an altercation regarding money happened between Hopkins and Redding in the yard of Redding’s cousins, and ultimately resulted in Hopkins shooting Redding. Seven of the eight shots Hopkins fired on Redding went into his back.

Hopkins will not be eligible for parole within the 65-year sentence, as this is 15 years fewer than the maximum sentence.

Criminal charges affect not only your reputation and career, but also your freedom. The criminal defense attorneys at Bruno Law Offices in Champaign provide diligent representation for those who have been charged with crimes in this area, working for the best possible result from their case. Call us at 217-328-6000 today to learn how we may fight to uphold your rights and pursue your interests in court.


Illinois man sentenced to 107 years for 2013 murder

Twenty-three-year-old Kamron Taylor was sentenced to 107 years by Kankakee County Circuit Judge Kathy Bradshaw-Elliott on May 11 for the shooting death of 21-year-old Nelson Williams, Jr., during a failed robbery back in 2013, according to a report in the Kankakee Daily Journal.

Bradshaw-Elliott told Taylor that he was a threat to the community and repeatedly proved to be dangerous. In April of this year, Taylor escaped from the Jerome Combs Detention Center before being re-captured three days later.

The defense team called a mitigation specialist to the stand, who had written a 15 page report on Taylor’s past, including evidence of abuse by relatives since the age of 3.

The criminal defense attorneys at the Bruno Law Offices understand that a conviction of criminal charges can affect your reputation, career, and your freedom. This is why it is critical to enlist the help of an experienced defense team as early on in the process as possible. Call our offices at (217) 328-6000 today to learn more about protecting your future.


Champaign jury rejects self-defense plea and convicts man in shooting

A jury in Champaign County deliberated for five hours on April 9 before rejecting 30-year-old local Micah Hopkins’ claim that he shot 26-year-old local Allen Redding repeatedly in self-defense, thereby convicting Hopkins of first-degree murder, according to the News-Gazette.

Redding suffered eight gunshot wounds in the yard of his cousin’s home at around 5:30 p.m. on June 24, 2014. The incident began over a dispute about money. Although two other men were originally implicated in the crime, the charges against them were dismissed.

Sentencing for this conviction will occur in May; Hopkins is expected to receive 45 years to life in prison.

First-degree murder, which is a charge described as the unlawful killing of another person either intentionally or while committing a different felony, is a grave criminal offense that results in serious implications to the freedom of those convicted. If you have been charged with this crime in Champaign, contact the criminal defense attorneys at Bruno Law Offices by dialing 217-328-6000 today to learn how we may help you challenge every aspect of the case against you.

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