Judge hands down same 33-year sentence after DUI appeal

Judge hands down same 33-year sentence after DUI appeal

URBANA — A former Philo man resentenced Wednesday in Champaign County Circuit Court for his fifth aggravated driving under the influence conviction fared no better than he had two years ago when he got 33 years in prison.

In late April, the Fourth District Appellate Court in Springfield ruled 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 for aggravated DUI, driving under revocation and aggravated fleeing and eluding.

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 would be served consecutive to, rather than concurrently with, the DUI and driving under revocation sentences.

Bahrs was arrested Feb. 7, 2011, for all those offenses 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 Wednesday, Bahrs continued to maintain his innocence, saying the colon cancer he is now suffering from must have been the cause of his lack of any memory of what happened that day.

"I swear it had nothing to do with drinking and driving," said Bahrs.

Klaus said he remembered the trial testimony and the circumstances of Bahrs' flight from police "very well."

"I did not believe his version of events. I reiterate that today," said Klaus.

"Mr. Bahrs is one of the most deceitful and manipulative defendants I have ever had in front of me," he said.

He then imposed the same sentence he gave Bahrs two years ago — 30 years in prison for the aggravated DUI, three years on the driving under revocation, to be served concurrently, and three years for the aggravated fleeing, to be served consecutive to the other 30.

Bahrs, who had previously fired his court-appointed attorney, was represented Wednesday by Public Defender Randy Rosenbaum.

Rosenbaum urged the judge to consider a lesser sentence given Bahrs' serious medical condition and the fact that no one but Bahrs was injured the day of his arrest and the only damage done was to his own van.

Assistant State's Attorney Matt Banach had asked Klaus to impose the same sentence.

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