Victim recounts attack in trial of ex-UI football player

Victim recounts attack in trial of ex-UI football player

URBANA — It may have been 17 years since she was raped, but a 39-year-old suburban Chicago woman recalled the details with clarity for a Champaign County jury Tuesday.

"He had a gun. I was stunned. I saw the gun right away. I kinda' knew what this was about," the woman testified Tuesday.

The woman was a 22-year-old senior at the University of Illinois on July 13, 1995, when she was attacked in her apartment in the 800 block of West Illinois Street in Urbana.

The man accused of her rape, Steven Feagin, now 42, was 25 at the time.

A 1994 UI graduate and former running back for the Fighting Illini, Feagin now stands accused as a serial rapist.

He is on trial in Urbana this week before Judge Tom Difanis for one of three aggravated criminal sexual assaults he's charged with locally from 1993 and 1995. The cases were severed so as not to prejudice Feagin.

Urbana police developed Feagin as a suspect in 2008 after DNA taken from a woman raped in Pompano Beach, Fla., in June 2007 matched DNA that was in a national database from the 1993 and 1995 Champaign County rapes.

Former Urbana police Sgt. John Lockard, now an evidence technician for that department, kicked off the testimony Monday by explaining how he acted on a hunch to come up with Feagin as a suspect.

Knowing about the rape in Florida and the fact that all the women in the local rapes were UI students who were attacked in their apartments near campus by a black man, he theorized that the rapist was also a UI student from Florida. Lockard then used UI student-staff directories to find students who fit that profile.

He spent evenings and weekends reading the names of 37,665 students to find 73 from Florida. And after eliminating women and Asian men, he was left with 54 males. Feagin was among them. Running his name through local records, he learned that Feagin lived close to at least two of the victims at the time of their attacks.

He shared his information with Sgt. Dan Morgan of the detective section and the two proceeded to collect more information about Feagin that ultimately led to authorities in Florida getting a court-ordered DNA sample from him.

When that sample was found to match their unsolved 2007 Pompano Beach rape, Feagin was arrested in September 2008.

He was charged with the Florida rape and the three from Champaign County.

Aggravated criminal sexual assault charges had been filed in Champaign County in 2000 against a James Doe, with the DNA that ultimately was identified as Feagin's. Having the warrant on file for the attacker, identified only by his DNA, got prosecutors around any difficulties they might face with statute of limitations issues later.

Feagin remained in custody in Broward County, Fla., on the Pompano Beach sex assault from September 2008 until August 2011, when prosecutors there reluctantly dismissed their case over an apparent breakdown in the working relationship between the victim and the prosecutor.

Feagin was then returned to Illinois and has been in the county jail in Urbana since September 2011.

Assistant State's Attorney Troy Lozar decided to proceed on the July 13, 1995, case first.

The woman testified she was packing up her apartment on that hot July night when a man appeared in her doorway asking if someone lived in the house. She told him she didn't recognize the name and then closed her door. It was after 11 p.m. when she made a trip to her car with more boxes, shutting, but not locking, her door. When she walked back in her second-story apartment, she saw the same man in her kitchen holding a semi-automatic handgun.

He ordered her to not look at him, to lock the door and turn off the light. She complied. He then told her to go to her bedroom, turn off the light and undress. The woman, an art student, said she got a good look at his face. (She later worked with a forensic artist to develop a composite sketch that police compared with Feagin's photos on file with the UI's sports information office.)

The woman said she cooperated because he had a gun.

"He knew what he was going to do. I knew this wasn't going to be good," she said.

The woman said the man ordered her to lie on her stomach, then placed the gun in her genitals before sexually assaulting her.

"He asked me once or twice to tell him I liked it. I just wanted to get out of there without being hurt further," she said.

After he finished, she could hear the intruder rummaging through her change purse. She heard a bell on her front door ring, suggesting to her he was gone, so she immediately called police.

She was taken to Carle Foundation Hospital where fluids were collected and carefully stored in evidence. DNA extracted from those samples was compared by Illinois State Crime lab scientists with DNA taken from Feagin's tissue samples.

Scientist Jennifer Aper wrapped up the state's case by testifying that the odds that the semen collected from the woman came from someone other than Feagin was 1 in 1 quintillion.

"That's a one and 18 zeroes," Aper said.

Asked by Lozar to explain what those astronomic odds mean, she replied: "The male DNA profile in the vaginal swab matches the DNA of Steven Feagin."

The victim was never asked if she could identify Feagin. Morgan testified that she was unable to pick him out of a photo lineup in September 2008.

Feagin defense attorneys Scott Schmidt and George Vargas of the public defender's office opted not to call any witnesses on Feagin's behalf, opting instead to try to generate reasonable doubt among the eight female and four male jurors, by questioning the way evidence was collected and analyzed. They informed Difanis that Feagin would not testify.

The case is expected to go to the jury Wednesday.

Lozar said he'll decide after the trial is over when and how he'll proceed on the other cases against Feagin.

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rsp wrote on June 13, 2012 at 11:06 am

I remember when this was going on but I don't remember why the Florida case caught  Lt. John Lockard's interest. It seems like it was something specific. Any idea, Mary?

Mary Schenk wrote on June 13, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Lockard was a sergeant in investigations when this rape happened. (I mistakenly promoted him to lieutenant initially in this story) He's a combination bloodhound and workhorse. See the links in the verdict story to the earlier 2008 stories to get a better picture of how he did this. 

rsp wrote on June 13, 2012 at 12:06 pm

When you think about the trajectory this guy was on it's really scary. Good job on the story and I think a lot of people can be thankful to Lockard.