Judge leaves bond at $250,000 in fatal UI crash

Judge leaves bond at $250,000 in fatal UI crash

URBANA — An Urbana man accused of reckless homicide and aggravated driving under the influence for killing one University of Illinois student and injuring another last fall remains jailed on $250,000 bond.

Champaign County Judge Richard Klaus on Tuesday declined to lower the $250,000 bond he had set for Willie E. Craft, 58, of Urbana, on Jan. 14, after hearing that Craft had used a narcotic painkiller for which he had no prescription while out on bond.

Craft was first arraigned in December on the felony charges related to the Oct. 9 death of Mimi Liu, 20, of Chicago, and the injuries to Spandana Mantravadi, 20, who were both hit while walking on South Lincoln Avenue. Police and witnesses said Craft was driving his pickup truck erratically for blocks before striking the women just before 10 a.m. that day. Blood tests revealed he had cannabis metabolites in his system that day.

His bond was initially set at $250,000 but on Dec. 23, Craft’s attorney went to Judge Tom Difanis asking him to lower the bond to $75,000 with the understanding that Craft wear a GPS device and submit to chemical testing as conditions of his bond. Given those conditions, the state’s attorney’s office did not object to the lowering of the bond.

However, when it was discovered later through chemical testing — and Craft's own admission — that Craft had used Vicodin that he got from a friend, the state's attorney's office then went back to Klaus and asked that Craft's bond be increased.

On Jan. 14, Klaus reset the bond at $250,000 and Craft went back into custody.

Since then, Craft's original attorney, Alfred Ivy of Urbana, withdrew from representing him, leaving the case to Urbana attorney David Rumley.

Rumley came to court Tuesday with a motion asking Klaus to lower Craft's bond, drawing an immediate response from the judge.

"Bail is not a ping pong," Klaus said, reminding Rumley that both he and Difanis had previously addressed Craft's bond.

When Klaus asked Rumley if Craft's circumstances had changed dramatically in the last month, Rumley said he had "letters presented to me by supporters" of Craft that he wanted the judge to consider.

"Here's the problem you have," Klaus told Craft. "I have the last word. Motion denied."

Klaus then continued Craft's case again to the March 21 pretrial call.

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