Man's third trial begins

Man's third trial begins

URBANA – A Champaign woman broke down on the stand Tuesday afternoon as she described how a neighbor inappropriately touched her in her home in 2004.

The third trial of Patrick Thompson, 39, whose last known address was in the 1800 block of Winchester Drive, Champaign, on charges of home invasion and criminal sexual abuse began Monday before Champaign County Judge Harry Clem.

Thompson's attorneys, Robert Kirchner and Ruth Wyman of Champaign, and special prosecutor Michael Vujovich of the state appellate prosecutor's office, spent Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning selecting a jury. Testimony began Tuesday afternoon.

Thompson, a member of the Visionaries Educating Youth and Adults group, which tried to shed light on local police interaction with young black men in the summer of 2004, is charged in connection with an Aug. 24, 2004, incident in which he is alleged to have entered his neighbor's apartment at 1702 E. Colorado Ave., U, without her permission and fondled her.

His first trial in July 2005, in which he represented himself, ended in a mistrial when a jury couldn't come to a unanimous verdict. Represented by Urbana attorney Harvey Welch, Thompson was retried in July 2006 and convicted of the Class X felony of home invasion and the less serious criminal sexual abuse charge.

Thompson then hired Kirchner and Wyman in August 2006 to represent him. They filed a post-trial motion asking for a new trial, alleging ineffective assistance by Welch. In April 2007, Clem granted the new trial.

In opening statements to the jury, Vujovich conceded there is no physical evidence linking Thompson to the crime and that jurors would have to decide if they believe the 32-year-old mother of four.

Wyman, reading a prepared opening statement, said the jury would hear evidence that the woman was laughing and joking not long after the alleged assault and that Thompson had a splint on his fingers that would have made it difficult for him to have fondled her in the way she described.

The state's first witness, Urbana police Officer Michael Hediger, testified that he was sent to Provena Covenant Medical Center about 7:30 a.m. on Aug. 24, 2004, to a report of a sexual assault. He found the woman, a housekeeper at the hospital, in a supply closet crying and upset. After talking to her for about 30 minutes, he returned to the police station, where he put together a series of photos, including Thompson's, then took them back to her about 10:30 a.m.

She picked Thompson out as the man who entered her apartment without being asked, prompting Hediger to arrest Thompson at his home later that same day.

Hediger said he did not go to the woman's apartment, took no pictures and didn't ask for an evidence technician to go there.

"By the story she explained to me, I didn't see it would be useful," Hediger said.

The woman testified she had come up from the laundry room at her apartment building about 6:30 a.m. with a load of clothes in her arms when she saw Thompson, whom she knew then only as her neighbor, standing at the top of the stairs. When he said he wanted to talk to her, she told him no and went inside.

"I heard my door open and shut and then I heard it lock," she said, adding she looked up from sorting clothes on her bed to see Thompson coming down the hall to her bedroom.

"He started touching me on my chest, down my pants," she said, adding that he made a comment about how she knew she wanted to have sex with him.

The woman said she told him to stop. Asked to describe how she told him, the woman said she couldn't explain it, then broke into tears, prompting the trial to dismiss for the day.

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