URBANA — A Florida man accused of three rapes in Champaign County in the early 1990s is headed to prison for one of them for as long as 90 years.
A Champaign County jury Wednesday deliberated less than an hour before finding Steven Feagin, 42, guilty of aggravated criminal sexual assault for a July 13, 1995, attack on a then 22-year-old woman in her apartment on West Illinois Street in Urbana.
It was DNA left behind in semen 17 years ago that linked him to the rape.
Assistant State's Attorney Troy Lozar said on top of what he called "irrefutable science," the victim, a University of Illinois art student, helped police come up with a composite sketch of her attacker that looked strikingly like the former UI football player did when he was living here in 1995.
One of Feagin's attorneys, Assistant Public Defender George Vargas, argued that there may have been problems with the way the evidence was collected from the woman in 1995 and how it was stored by police.
The case went unsolved for years until DNA from a 2007 rape in Florida matched the DNA from the three Champaign County rapes that happened in 1993 and 1995. The Champaign County DNA was in a national database when the match was made.
Acting on a hunch that the rapist was a UI student from Florida, retired Urbana police Sgt. John Lockard, by then an evidence technician for the department, pored through UI student-staff directories to look for black male students from Florida.
He culled thousands of names to come up with Feagin as a suspect.
Because Feagin was charged with three separate sex acts involving the woman, now a 39-year-old art teacher from suburban Chicago, he will have to serve consecutive sentences of six to 30 years on each of the counts.
Judge Tom Difanis set sentencing for July 25.