URBANA — A Champaign man whose DNA was found at a crime scene has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for residential burglary.
On Wednesday, Judge Tom Difanis sentenced Nicholas James, 26, who listed an address in the 2800 block of Campbell Drive, Champaign, to 30 years of prison.
James will receive credit for 173 days he has already served.
On April 18, a Champaign County jury found James guilty of breaking into a home in the 2600 block of Wellington Drive on Dec. 16, 2010.
Assistant State's Attorney Stephanie Weber said a 32-year-old woman who lived there testified that she was away from her home and returned home early on Dec. 17 and noticed some Christmas presents partially unwrapped.
Suspecting her dog may have been responsible, she went in the bedroom but found the dog under the bed and the window, which had been locked, open. Looking further, she found other gifts and three laptop computers missing.
Police found a smudged handprint on the open window and footprints in the snow outside the open window but nothing of a good enough quality from which to draw any comparisons. They also found a cigarette butt on the top of the snow near the open window.
The state crime lab ran tests on it and found the DNA on the butt matched that of James, who had previous convictions for residential burglary, delivery of a controlled substance and obstructing justice. The prior convictions meant his DNA would have been on file in the state's DNA database.
Weber said Champaign police investigator Dale Rawdin learned of the match in March 2011 and interviewed James.
James told Rawdin that he didn't go in the house but was there at the request of an acquaintance he knew from his neighborhood only as "D" who asked him to watch out for police.
Weber said none of the woman's property was ever recovered.