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Ex-ISU student acquitted of rape charges

24-year-old former Illinois State University student William Wells was acquitted of sexual assault charges on Friday, August 12 in McLean County Circuit Court in Illinois.

After a deliberation of about four hours, the jury returned with a not guilty verdict in the case of Wells, who was accused of raping a woman in February at his apartment in Normal. The trial lasted for four days and ended on Thursday, August 11. The jurors talked for around an hour on Thursday, and continued their discussion of the case at the Law and Justice Center on Friday morning. At the time of the supposed incident, Wells was a student at ISU and the woman, who was 18, was visiting from a college in northern Illinois.

Wells was also cleared of a charge of resisting arrest, a misdemeanor. Judge Robert Freitag also dismissed obstruction of justice charges against the accused. He agreed with Wells’ legal counsel, Stephanie Wong, that the state of Illinois was not able to provide sufficient evidence that Wells destroyed evidence at his apartment.

If you are charged with a criminal offense, such as rape or obstructing justice, in Champaign or another area of Illinois, contact our criminal defense attorneys at the Bruno Law Offices today by calling (217) 328-6000.


Former director of Tri-County Action Commission pleads not guilty

Sixty-year-old West Union Township resident Denise Birt pleaded not guilty on Friday, July 15 in relation to charges that she mismanaged the organization’s fund. Birt is the former director of the Tri-County Action Commission, a non-profit organization that provides services to people living in Logan, Champaign, and Shelby counties.

Birt’s five-count indictment includes three third-degree felonies – securing writings by deception, falsification, and theft – a fourth-degree felony count of theft, and misdemeanor charge of tampering with records. David Thomas, Birt’s defense attorney from Columbus, said imprisoning her was uncalled for. He noted, “It came as a complete surprise to us because we’ve been in communication with the Logan County Prosecutor’s Office, yet for some reason, they found it necessary to issue a secret indictment and a warrant to arrest a woman who is 60 years old and has no criminal record. She’s cooperated with the prosecutor’s office so far and there’s no reason to believe she will not continue to do so.”

The attorneys The Bruno Law Offices, handle criminal defense cases, including white collar crimes, all over Illinois and in federal courts. Call our offices today at (217) 328-6000 to discuss your legal options.


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.


Former police officer pleads guilty to aggravated criminal sexual abuse

32-year-old Jerad Gale, a former police officer for both the Champaign City Police Department and the Monticello Police Department in Illinois, pleaded guilty on Friday, May 27 to two felony counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse in two separate cases involving two women in Champaign City Court.

Gale was given a jail sentence of six months, 48 months of probation, and a lifetime registration as a sexual offender as part of a deal that included a guilty plea on an identical Class 2 charge on another victim in Piatt County. His sentence began on Friday, June 3 in Piatt County, and will be served concurrently for all three charges. Gale was originally charged with aggravated criminal sexual assault of a 22-year-old woman with bodily harm, which included a strained neck and bruised arm. He was also charged with aggravated domestic battery for choking the victim and refusing to let her breathe while he sexually assaulted her.

The criminal defense lawyers at the Bruno Law Offices have a high success rate and are highly recommended by our clients. Should you have the misfortune of being charged with a criminal offense in Champaign, do not hesitate to employ the legal services of our attorneys by calling (217) 328-6000 to speak with a qualified member of our legal team.


Illinois lawmakers draft bill to protect rights of juveniles

Illinois lawmakers are considering the creation of a bill that would require the presence of an attorney when police officers interrogate juveniles who are younger than 15 years of age in murder or sex offense investigations in an attempt to lower the rate of false confessions.

The bill would mandate that when police question anyone younger than 15 regarding a murder or sex crime, the police must read a simplified Miranda warning that informs the accused of their right to remain silent and have legal counsel. The bill also seeks to require the videotaping of interrogations of juveniles suspected of misdemeanor or felony cases.

Director of training at the National Juvenile Defender Center, Tim Curry, claims teenagers and children often have no idea how to invoke their right to an attorney. Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth co-director Laura Nirider agrees, saying “Children are vulnerable in the interrogation room and the result can be false confessions.”

The Bruno Law Offices have long been committed to protecting those accused of a crime in Urbana-Champaign and other areas of Illinois. To discuss how we can help you avoid a serious conviction, call our offices at (217) 328-6000.


Champaign police officer waives right to jury trial in sexual assault case

Thirty-one-year-old Champaign, Illinois police officer Jerad Gale, who is charged with sexual assault involving three women in two counties, waived his right to a jury trial in one of the cases, which was set to start the first week of May.

According to the Champaign News-Gazette, Gale made the request on Friday, April 29. He is charged with two counts of criminal sexual assault involving a 27-year-old woman with whom he lived in Monticello in a trial scheduled to begin on Monday, May 2. Evan Bruno, Gale’s legal counsel, has yet to say if Gale and local prosecutors are arranging a plea deal in lieu of a jury trial.

The attorneys at the Bruno Law Offices, who serve clients in the Champaign-Urbana area of Illinois, handle defense for offenses such as child pornography, sex crimes, gun crimes, and drug crimes, among others. Get in touch with a member of our legal team by calling our offices at (217) 328-6000 to discuss your legal options.


Illinois teacher charged with sexual abuse asks for bail reduction

Twenty-nine-year-old Mokena, Illinois resident and former Herscher High School Social Studies teacher and coach David Murphy appeared in Kendall County Court on Thursday, January 7 to ask for reduction of his $250,000 bond. Murphy has been charged with nine felony counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse and aggravated battery for allegedly assaulting six students – four girls and two boys – at a motel room in Yorkville in December 2015.

Frank Lipuma of Chicago, Murphy’s legal counsel, said Murphy and his girlfriend are expecting a baby and that the $25,000 bail Murphy’s family had already posted on Saturday, January 2, has been causing serious financial problems. Lipuma also told Judge McCann that Murphy has no history of criminal misconduct, and that the defendant has received eleven medals for his service in the military.

Our attorneys at the Bruno Law Offices in Urbana, Champaign, and central Illinois, are committed to providing excellent legal service to our clients who have been charged with crimes in Illinois. Call our offices today at (217) 328-6000 to discuss your situation and learn how we may be able to help protect your interests.


Tennessee Titans wide receiver Justin Hunter not guilty of battery & assault

Twenty-four-year-old wide receiver for the NFL’s Tennessee Titans, Justin Scott Hunter, was recently found not guilty of assault and battery charges filed against him in connection with a brawl that occurred on July 4, 2015 in his hometown of Virginia Beach.

According to a report from ESPN, prosecutors for the case argued that the brawl led to a man’s jaw being broken, although the victim testified in court that it wasn’t Hunter who gave him the most forceful punch.

Hunter’s legal counsel, Toby Vick, said the football player was singled out for the charges because he has the most money among the men involved in the fight, due to his status as an NFL player.

Sports information site Rotoworld thinks that Hunter will avoid being disciplined by the league, although it’s going to be a long shot, given the predisposition of NFL commissioner Roger Stokoe Goodell.

If you have had a run-in with the law and were charged with a criminal offense in the Champaign-Urbana area or elsewhere in East Central Illinois, our attorneys at Bruno Law Offices will make sure that your legal rights are well protected and that you have your fair trial in court. Call our offices today at (217) 328-6000.

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