'Incredibly dangerous' man sentenced to prison after probation violation

URBANA — A Champaign man who admitted he violated the probation he was on for aggravated domestic battery by clobbering his uncle with a frying pan was resentenced Wednesday to seven years in prison.

Judge Tom Difanis called Tavaris Hunt, 26, "incredibly dangerous" and said he needed to be imprisoned.

Difanis made his comments after seeing video from two different incidents in which Hunt physically and verbally abused his former girlfriend in the fall of 2012.

A friend of the couple who was at their Champaign home at the time was troubled by Hunt's abusive behavior, got out her cellphone and videotaped Hunt choking the woman, dragging her across the floor and dropping her while berating her. Hunt was unaware of the recording. The woman then took the recordings to Champaign police, resulting in multiple charges of domestic battery, aggravated domestic battery and criminal sexual assault against Hunt.

In a negotiated agreement, Hunt pleaded guilty in December 2012 to aggravated domestic battery in one case for four years of probation. He also pleaded guilty to a separate charge of aggravated domestic battery involving the same woman for a five-year prison sentence. The criminal sexual assault charge was dismissed. 

"It is absolutely breathtaking to see how one human being can treat another human being in such a despicable and outrageous manner ... He is violent and dangerous and needs to be incarcerated," the judge said.

Hunt, who last lived in the 1100 block of North Champaign Street, admitted in early February that he violated that probation on Jan. 12, when he hit his uncle in the face with a frying pan when angry, resisted arrest by a Champaign police officer that day by faking a seizure, and drank alcohol in violation of his probation.

Assistant State's Attorney Sarah Carlson sought a prison sentence after showing Difanis the video and noting that Hunt's criminal career was characterized by multiple violent acts. She said it started with an aggravated battery adjudication when he was a juvenile. As an adult, he racked up several convictions for domestic battery, aggravated battery and resisting a peace officer, she said.

Hunt's attorney, Assistant Public Defender George Vargas, said his client is young, admitted his crimes and needs substance abuse and mental health counseling.

Hunt told the judge he needed help for his substance abuse and anger problems. He said his father was shot when he was 3 and his male role models were uncles who have had numerous difficulties with the law as well.

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Herb wrote on March 19, 2014 at 2:03 pm

It seems like this county has a habit of giving probation to violent and dangerous people. 

Mary Schenk wrote on March 19, 2014 at 10:03 pm

I have corrected the story to reflect that Hunt was sentenced to five years in prison in December 2012 for aggravated domestic battery in one case and probation in another, both involving the same victim depicted in the video. I was unaware of the earlier prison sentence as I covered his Wednesday resentencing.