Judge revokes probation after jury acquits man in separate case

URBANA — A Champaign County jury may not have believed there was enough evidence to convict a man of firing a gun at a man in Urbana last fall, but a judge did.

Judge Thomas Difanis ruled Tuesday that the evidence he heard earlier this month in the trial of Andre Winters, 28, was sufficient to believe he had violated the probation he was on for aggravated battery.

On Feb. 6, a jury acquitted Winters, whose last known address was in the 2000 block of Cynthia Drive, Champaign, of aggravated discharge of a firearm and being an armed habitual criminal in connection with an Oct. 12 shooting that happened in the 2600 block of High Street in east Urbana.

Relying on an earlier Illinois Supreme Court ruling, Difanis said that same evidence he heard in the case that led to Winters' acquittal could be used to revoke the probation Winters received last September for a violent aggravated battery.

"That jury could not find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. That's what happens sometimes," Difanis said.

But the judge said he found Ernest Mosley, the 43-year-old Urbana man who identified Winters as the person who fired three shots at him to be "incredibly credible" and the defendant's alibi witnesses not believable. He said the state had presented other circumstantial evidence to bolster its case.

"This is not a close case. It was obvious to the court that the state proved (the charges) beyond a reasonable doubt. The jury made a contrary finding and that's up to them," he said.

He then revoked Winters' bond and sent him to jail to await an April 9 resentencing on the aggravated battery. Because of prior convictions, Winters could be resentenced to as many as 10 years in prison.

In September, Winters pleaded guilty to aggravated battery for an April 7, 2013, attack on a 28-year-old Decatur man who accidentally bumped Winters as they were leaving Bradley's, a bar in west Champaign. Coincidentally, Mosley testified that he is employed as a bouncer at Bradley's and recognized Winters from frequenting the club.

Assistant State's Attorney Troy Lozar said Winters was one of four people who joined in beating the man in the parking lot about 2 a.m. as the bar was closing. The victim lost consciousness and sustained a severe cut to the back of the head and was kicked repeatedly in the face, requiring hospital treatment.

Lozar said Bradley's employees who saw the attack identified Winters as the main aggressor. Additionally, shoe wear impressions from the victim's face matched Winters' shoes, he said.

Winters' attorney, Assistant Public Defender Jamie Propps, asked that Winters remain free on bond pending his resentencing but Difanis declined after hearing about Winters' prior convictions. Lozar said those included battery, residential burglary, possession with intent to deliver cannabis, retail theft, obstructing justice, and driving under suspension.

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