Man who didn't appear at trial gets 30 years

URBANA — A former Champaign man who was not present for his jury trial last month has been sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Champaign County Judge Tom Difanis issued a warrant for the arrest of Edward L. Taylor, 36, formerly of the 2800 block of Campbell Drive, when he failed to show up for his Aug. 13 trial on a charge of armed robbery.

In a trial that took less than two days, a jury convicted Taylor of the Jan. 20 armed robbery of a clerk at the Meijer Gas Station, 2201 N. Prospect Ave., C.

Because of his prior record, which included a 2000 conviction for aggravated battery with a firearm, Taylor was eligible for an extended term of six to 60 years. And because the jury found that he used a gun in the commission of the robbery, that meant an extra 15 years had to be tacked on to whatever sentence the judge chose within that six-to-60 range.

Assistant State's Attorney Lindsey Clark did not present any aggravating evidence and asked Difanis to impose a sentence nearer the high end of the range.

Taylor's attorney, Jim Dedman of Urbana, said he didn't ask for a specific number of years either for his client.

"This is very strange not to have a client. I have no idea what this man wanted done at his trial because he never said," said Dedman, who was privately retained by Taylor but received only a portion of his fee for representing him.

"Here's an irony: The value of this gun he bought for $20 (to commit the holdup) was more than the proceeds he got from the robbery. Had he taken the gun and sold it to a collector, because it's rare, he would have gotten more money than he got from the robbery," Dedman said.

In July, Difanis had released Taylor on his own recognizance when Clark asked for a continuance due to the unavailability of a police officer witness. Taylor had been in the county jail since the night of the holdup, having been arrested within about 20 minutes of the crime.

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