SPRINGFIELD — A former Philo man serving a 33-year prison sentence in connection with his fifth aggravated driving under the influence conviction will get a new sentencing hearing.
The Fourth District Appellate Court in Springfield ruled Tuesday that Champaign County Judge Rich Klaus failed to explain to Shawn Bahrs all the potential penalties he faced for the three convictions he received from a Champaign County jury in 2011.
The appeals court found that Klaus failed to let Bahrs, 48, know that the three years in prison he received for aggravated fleeing and eluding had to be served consecutive to, rather than concurrently with, the DUI and driving under revocation sentences.
Here is a copy of the ruling.
Bahrs was arrested Feb. 7, 2011, for aggravated driving under the influence, aggravated fleeing and eluding a peace officer, and driving with a revoked license after a witness saw him, obviously intoxicated, drive off from Philo, head north on Illinois 130, and lead police on a pursuit through north Urbana that ended when he crashed his van.
Testimony at his July 2011 jury trial was that numerous people were forced off the highway during the late morning incident, that Bahrs disobeyed about eight traffic control signs during the pursuit, and that he drove his van directly at a sheriff's deputy who had a weapon drawn before it all came to an end. No one but Bahrs was injured.
On the day of sentencing, Bahrs fired his court-appointed public defender and represented himself. The appeals court said Klaus' failure to admonish him then about the potential penalties meant that his waiver of counsel was not valid.
The court sent the case back to Klaus with instructions that he resentence Bahrs, with or without a defense lawyer, depending on how Bahrs chooses to proceed.
Because of his multiple prior convictions for DUI, Bahrs had to be sentenced to between six and 30 years on the aggravated DUI conviction.