Car burglary brings 26-year prison sentence
URBANA — A former Champaign man with a lengthy criminal history has been sentenced to 26 years in prison for a car burglary that happened more than three years ago in that city.
In late April, a Champaign County jury convicted Mohammad Morrar, 58, who last lived locally in the 400 block of Eureka Street, of a single count of burglary.
Because of his multiple prior convictions, Morrar was charged as a Class X felon.
Testimony at Morrar's trial before Judge Tom Difanis was that a University of Illinois student had returned to his apartment at 51 E. Green St., C, on Jan. 15, 2011, after having been at home for the Christmas break.
Assistant State's Attorney Troy Lozar said the man testified he was unloading his car, parked in an underground parking area, and had not locked it as he made trips back and forth between the car and his apartment. On one of those trips, he saw a man in his car holding his GPS in his hand. He confronted the burglar and asked what he was doing, only to have the man reply, "This is my car." The surprised student protested and the man got out and walked away, getting into another car.
The student followed him and noted the license plate of the car the burglar entered. Champaign police learned it registered to Morrar and based on that, put together a photo lineup that contained Morrar's picture. The victim picked him out of the photo lineup. He also identified him in court as the man who was in his car, Lozar said.
Police were unable to find Morrar at the time but obtained a warrant for his arrest. It was not served until January, when he was about to be released from prison for another sentence he was serving from Cook County.
Lozar said Morrar had prior convictions for residential burglary, burglary, attempted burglary, aggravated battery, and battery.
The prosecutor sought a 25-year sentence for Morrar while Assistant Public Defender George Vargas asked for a sentence closer to the minimum of six years.
Difanis noted that Morrar had been sentenced to a total of 36 years in prison on previous sentences, most of them out of Cook County.
Morrar will be eligible for day-for-day good time on his sentence, meaning he could be out in about 13 years.