Man acquitted of Champaign break-in

Man acquitted of Champaign break-in

URBANA — A Champaign County jury Wednesday acquitted a man of breaking into a northwest Champaign home last fall.

Jordan U. Johnson, 21, who listed an address in the 1200 block of West Eureka Street, Champaign, was found not guilty of residential burglary by a jury that deliberated about an hour.

Judge Harry Clem presided over the trial, which began Tuesday.

Johnson was accused of having entered a home in the 1200 block of Joanne Lane between Oct. 21 and 23 while the woman was out of town. A Social Security card and a debit card were stolen.

Johnson was linked to the crime after his thumbprint was found on a torn envelope in the woman's house.

Johnson told the jury that some time before that weekend, he had been walking in that neighborhood on his way to his girlfriend's home when he saw a piece of mail on the ground, picked it up and put it in that woman's mailbox.

Assistant State's Attorney Duke Harris called that defense "preposterous" and said Johnson fashioned the excuse after learning of the fingerprint evidence.

"The defendant's explanation is not believable. It's too coincidental," said the prosecutor, who had no comment later on the jury's verdict.

Johnson's attorney, Dan Jackson of Champaign, had argued that there were no other fingerprints found inside the woman's home, where several items were out of place after the break-in. He theorized that the burglar wore gloves.

He further argued that it made no sense that there would be only one thumbprint on the torn envelope when it would have taken two hands to rip it open.

"Not only is it a reasonable explanation," he said of the mail on the ground having been picked up by Johnson, "but it fits the evidence."

Harris countered that Jackson was engaging in "some sort of CSI fantasy" to suggest that "every time something is touched, a fingerprint is left."

In May, another jury acquitted Johnson of a residential burglary that happened Sept. 13 at a home in the 2400 block of Clayton Boulevard in Champaign.

In that break-in, a flat-screen television was stolen. A witness saw a man he identified as Johnson hiding the TV behind a tree in a nearby park.

Johnson still faces two other charges of residential burglary alleging break-ins to homes on Sept. 23 in the 1000 block of North James Street and the 400 block of West Beardsley Avenue in Champaign.

Harris filed those charges Monday. Johnson was arraigned on them and told to be back in court Aug. 6 with a lawyer. He's being held in lieu of $100,000 bond on those cases.

Also Monday, Harris dismissed another case against Johnson in which he was accused of aggravated battery and domestic battery after the victim declined to cooperate in his prosecution.

Court records show Johnson has convictions for attempted residential burglary in 2010 and felony criminal damage to property in 2009.

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xb wrote on August 01, 2012 at 8:08 pm

There's a Clayton Blvd and Clayton Rd in Champaign, and there's a Clayton Dr in Mahomet.  I'm assuming this is an error and the article means one of the former.

Chazman wrote on August 01, 2012 at 9:08 pm
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Really?!?  After reading this article about a person being acquitted of a residential burglary while at the same time being brought up on similar charges elsewhere, and the burning issue in your mind prompting a comment is whether or not the road is a Drive or a Street?  I grow so tired of reading comments nit-picking the writers of these articles while grossly ignoring the story that is being written.  Unbelievable.  I'm not a fan of N-G, but geez, can't we give these people a break?  We're all human and make mistakes....

Mary Schenk wrote on August 01, 2012 at 9:08 pm

It was one of the Claytons in Champaign and I will have to double-check the court file tomorrow during business hours. 

xb wrote on August 02, 2012 at 9:08 am

Yes, that's the burning issue because I am curious to know if it is near my house or not, and the suffix makes a difference here.  I didn't say anything insulting or critical of the author, the N-G is always very good about clarifying information (plus, I'm not even necessarily asking them to do it, maybe someone else in the readership knew the answer).

Mary Schenk wrote on August 02, 2012 at 10:08 am

Boulevard it is. Forgive my omission. Suffice it to say that obtaining that tidbit was harder than it should have been.

Orbiter wrote on August 01, 2012 at 9:08 pm

So the guy was acquitted.  That means he's innocent.  Yet the article goes on to describe another case where the same guy was also innocent, but hands us some sketchy evidence about a witness who saw someone, almost encouraging us to draw conclusions contrary to what the jury decided.  And the same guy has additional charges pending on similar crimes.  It's beginning to sound like the police just go out and "round up the usual suspect" whenever there's a robbery.  And if the guy is acquitted of those crimes, what next?  Hey, we've had almost a dozen bank robberies this year, will they start trying him for each of those?  "His fingerprint was found on a dollar bill".  Sheesh.