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Suspect in South Carolina church shooting facing federal charges, including hate crimes

Twenty-one-year-old Dylann Roof, the suspected shooter in the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church killings in Charleston, SC, was scheduled to be arraigned last Monday, June 20 on new charges of obstructing the practice of religion, hate crimes, and firearms violations five weeks after the tragic killings of nine people.

It has been reported that Roof wants to enter a plea of guilty for the 33 counts he currently faces. His attorney has said that his team cannot advise Roof on this matter until they find out if the government will be seeking the maximum penalty. Of the 33 charges faced by Roof at this time, eighteen carry the death penalty, with the others carrying life sentences following conviction. In addition to these penalties, the charges against Roof could result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Bristow Marchant has entered a plea of not guilty for Roof. Marchant also accepted Roof’s indigent defendant applications, meaning the state will pay his attorney fees. Roof’s defense attorneys must file any pretrial motions by August 20. At this time there are no future hearings scheduled regarding Roof’s case.


Mattoon woman violates three-year probation in car theft case

Illinois resident Abby Mingus, 32, was re-sentenced to 3 ½ years of imprisonment after violating her three year probation for stealing a vehicle in January 2014, the Journal Gazette and Times-Courier reported on June 15.

Her sentence included a provision that required her to attend a treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities program. However, Mingus was charged with retail theft for allegedly stealing merchandise from a Wal-Mart store in Charleston in October 2014, causing the court to re-sentence her for her prior conviction. Mingus was also charged with obstruction of justice and driving with a revoked or suspended license on May 7, 2015.

If you are facing accusations of a crime, especially if you have a prior record, it is critical to quickly enlist the help of a criminal defense team. Call Bruno Law Offices in Champaign at (217) 328-6000 today to learn how our experienced attorneys may fight relentlessly for the best possible result from your case.

Defense attorney Tony Bruno avoids jail time for client

Attorney Tony Bruno recently represented a Champaign resident who was accused of recording a teenage girl without permission, according to a June 17 article in The News-Gazette.

The accused pleaded guilty to unauthorized video recording. Although the Assistant State Attorney argued for a jail term of three years, Bruno managed to reduce the sentence to home detention and a period of probation. The home detention will be monitored by an electrical device for six months. Then, a probation period of 30 months will follow. Bruno said that his client has performed community service work for three years now, and probation would provide him the chance to continue this positive contribution.

The Champaign legal team at Bruno Law Offices is dedicated to fighting for the best possible result in each of our clients’ cases. To learn more about how we may be able to uphold your rights and protect your interests in court, call our offices at (217) 328-6000 today.

Judge reduces Champaign man’s sentence for third DUI conviction

Champaign County Judge Richard Klaus decreased the sentence he gave to 32-year-old Champaign resident Robeson Graham-Bailey for his third DUI conviction due to additional evidence that previously was not heard, according to the News-Gazette on May 27.

Graham-Bailey was originally sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison, but Klaus knocked three years off of this term.

The third DUI stemmed from Graham-Bailey’s erratic driving in downtown Champaign in May of last year, which earned him an aggravated DUI conviction in January 2015.

Our attorneys at Bruno Law Offices in Champaign are experienced at providing comprehensive and aggressive representation for those charged with a DUI. In this situation, especially if the charge is not your first, it is critical to enlist the help of a dedicated criminal defense team. To discuss your case and begin building a defense that challenges every aspect of the case against you, call our offices at (217) 328-6000 today.

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.

Tom Bruno eliminates six of seven charges with plea agreement for client

Daniel Beckwitt was facing seven criminal charges in 2013, to which he originally pleaded not guilty. Six of those charges were eventually dropped after attorney Tom Bruno arranged a plea agreement with Assistant State’s Attorney Matt Banach. In the end, Beckwitt pleaded guilty to a single count of computer fraud, a Class 3 felony. As part of his punishment for the felony, Beckwitt was sentenced to 24 months of probation and made to pay just under $25,000 in fines and restitution.

The original charges stemmed from allegations concerning Beckwitt’s tampering with computers in the University of Illinois’ Everitt Laboratory to gain access to a student’s account with the use of a keyboard logger. By doing so, the affected student was made to commit an academic integrity violation. UI also claimed that the hacking forced the cancellation of a final exam.  Beckwitt was ordered to compensate the University of Illinois over $22,000 to pay for the damages that were associated with the crime that he pleaded guilty to.

Student receives reduced charges and probation after pleading guilty

A student from the University of Illinois was sentenced after pleading guilty to the Class 3 felony of one count of possession of cannabis with intent to deliver between 30-500 grams, according to the News-Gazette on May 27.

For pleading guilty, the student received a reprieve on more serious charges brought against her, including the intent to deliver LSD and ecstasy. In addition to being expelled from school, she received two years of probation, four months of electronic home detention, 100 hours of community service, and a hefty fine of $15,600.

Two other students were charged with similar crimes; all three had been under covert investigation for about a year.

The attorneys at Bruno Law Offices help those who have been charged with drug crimes in the Champaign area achieve the best possible results from their case. If your future is at risk because of charges brought against you, enlist the help of our legal team by calling 217-328-6000 today.

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 PD Mulling Body Cameras

Earlier this week, the Department of Justice allocated $20 million to help police departments across the country purchase body cameras for their officers. As indicated by deputy chief of operations Joe Gallo, the Champaign Police Department is considering taking the DOJ up on their offer to outfit the city’s officers with the body cameras, which cost anywhere between $800 to $1000 each.

While Gallo points to the advantages of equipping police officers with body cameras—especially in cases where the conduct of an officer is put into question—he also admits there are a number of logistical and technical issues that will need to be worked out before they can be effective. In particular, Gallo voiced concern over the sheer volume of video that would be accrued on a daily basis.

Tom Bruno of the Bruno Law Offices concedes that the use of body cameras for police officers may be an effective tool with which we may confront police misconduct, but contends that there are deeper issues that we still need to confront as a society.

As quoted by The Daily Illini, Bruno asserts that “[t]here have been cases where we wish there might have been a video camera to know the truth better about certain circumstances, like Ferguson, Missouri, so it (is) a compelling argument for body cameras.”

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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