Man sentenced to 35 years in home invasion

URBANA — A man who was shot during a violent home invasion in Champaign was sentenced Monday to 35 years in prison for the September intrusion, which was strikingly similar to one he committed in 2007.

Charles J. Brown, 37, whose last known address was in the 1300 block of North Champaign Street, Champaign, nearly died as a result of his entry into a home in the 1100 block of West Eureka Street on Sept. 26.

A jury convicted him in May of home invasion. Co-defendant Mario Dorsey, 36, who was also shot in the intrusion, has not yet been tried. His case is set for next month.

Testimony at the trial was that a woman and her three children, ages 15, 7, and 1, were home about 7 p.m. when there was a knock on the door.

The woman's teen-aged son answered, only to have two masked men force their way in and demand to see the woman's boyfriend, who was not home. The family members were herded into a bedroom and ordered to lie on the floor. They were covered with blankets while one of the men held a gun on them.

As the family was being threatened, the woman's boyfriend arrived home. From outside the house he could hear the dog barking and his girlfriend screaming. He got a gun from the garage, entered the house and fired at the intruders when he saw them with guns pointed at his girlfriend and her children.

Champaign police detective Don Shepard said Brown was shot in the back. Shepard said medical personnel told him Brown was dead on the table until doctors massaged his heart, bringing him back to life.

Dorsey was shot in the leg and a portion of it had to be amputated, Shepard said.

Shepard was also the case agent on a 2007 home invasion for which Brown was convicted of robbery.

Shepard told Judge Harry Clem that the victim in that case was in his home in the 1200 block of West Eureka Street sleeping about 5:45 a.m. on July 18, 2007, when two armed men, with bandannas over their faces and sweatshirts with hoods up, barged in demanding money and drugs.

The victim handed over $200 but the intruders continued to demand money and drugs from the victim, whose 10-year-old son and 12-year-old stepson were also in the home. Shepard said they threatened several times to shoot the man, stole his safe, rifled his drawers, took a sack of change and a jar of quarters, and even stole a ring off his finger.

Seven minutes later, the two went into the Schnucks store in Champaign and put the coins in a coin changer machine, a transaction recorded on video. It was that video that led to their arrest. Brown pleaded guilty to robbery and was sentenced to seven years in prison.

Assistant State's Attorney Duke Harris recommended 40 years in prison for Brown.

"Mr. Brown is an extremely dangerous man. His willingness to go in to people's homes while armed is everyone's worst nightmare," he said.

He said Brown's criminal history started when he was a juvenile and included convictions for theft, burglary, obstructing justice, forgery, drug possession, and robbery. He could have received 45 years.

Assistant Public Defender Anthony Ortega argued for a lesser sentence, noting that Brown became a ward of the state at age 13 and has been addicted to heroin since he was 15.

Clem said that was unfortunate but said Brown had several opportunities to deal with his drug addiction and didn't.

"Everyone in this or any community has a right to be safe in their own home," he said.

Under truth-in-sentencing, Brown will have to serve at least 29 1/2 years. He was given credit for 264 days already served.

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