Home invasion count against man dismissed

Home invasion count against man dismissed

URBANA – A Champaign County judge Wednesday dismissed the more serious of two criminal counts against a Champaign man in connection with a 2004 incident at an Urbana woman's home.

Judge Harry Clem dismissed a home invasion charge against Patrick Thompson, 39, saying that special prosecutor Michael Vujovich failed to present evidence on one of the necessary elements to prove the offense: that Thompson was not a peace officer acting in the line of duty.

The ruling took away the threat of a mandatory prison sentence for the community activist. Had Thompson been convicted of home invasion, he would have faced a mandatory six to 30 years in prison.

Clem said the only evidence the seven-man, five-woman jury heard on that came from the woman whose apartment was entered Aug. 24, 2004, that she did not believe Thompson was a police officer.

"There was absolutely no other evidence presented as to that point," Clem said, rejecting Vujovich's argument that police officers don't normally respond to calls in sweat pants with no shirts.

"A significant segment" of the police population does not wear typical uniforms while working, Clem said, refusing to take judicial notice of that which he said Vujovich should have presented testimony on.

Thompson wept with joy and hugged supporters after hearing the judge's ruling, made in response to defense attorney Robert Kirchner's motion for a directed verdict.

Defense attorneys routinely argue at the close of the state's case that there hasn't been enough evidence adduced for a jury to consider the charges. More often than not, judges deny those motions and the case goes forward.

Neither Kirchner nor Vujovich would comment on the ruling, given that Clem said there was sufficient evidence for the case to proceed on the less serious criminal sexual abuse charge. Thompson was able to say only that he was "happy" before Kirchner reminded him it was premature to comment.

The criminal sexual abuse charge, which alleges that Thompson fondled the woman once inside her apartment at 1702 E. Colorado Ave., U, is a Class 4 felony carrying penalties ranging from probation to one to three years upon conviction.

After Clem's ruling, the defense began its case.

Kirchner and Ruth Wyman had Champaign County correctional officer Thomas Tarr testify about a medical intake sheet filled out when Thompson was booked on Aug. 24, 2004. Although Tarr said he had no independent recollection of Thompson, Tarr said he checked the box on the sheet that indicated that Thompson had a sling, bandage or cast on his right index finger.

Former jail nurse Susan Frick also testified that she taped Thompson's index finger to his middle finger the next morning to alleviate pain he was complaining of from having a piece of metal hit his hand three days earlier. Frick also said the sheet indicated Thompson had a splint in his personal property at the jail.

Wyman had said in her opening statement that because of the splint, Thompson was unable to fondle the woman in the way she described. The woman testified that Thompson did not have a splint on his finger when he was touching her.

This is the third trial for Thompson on these charges. His first ended in a mistrial in July 2005. He represented himself and the jury was unable to reach a verdict.

In July 2006, he was represented by Urbana attorney Harvey Welch and convicted of both counts. Clem, in April 2007, granted a motion for a new trial based on the fact that Welch had been ineffective.

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