Traffic stop leads to weapons charges against passenger

URBANA — A Champaign man who allegedly had a stolen gun in a car with him Thursday night in Urbana has been charged with two felonies.

Billy D. Palmer, 35, who listed an address in the 300 block of Lockraven Road, was charged Friday with being an armed habitual criminal, a Class X felony, and possession of a stolen firearm.

Assistant State's Attorney Matt Banach said about 11:20 p.m. Thursday, an Urbana police officer stopped a car with four people in it on University Avenue at Orchard Street because the car had a headlight out.

Palmer was a back-seat passenger, who was found to be wanted on an outstanding warrant in an aggravated driving under the influence case.

Because of his presence and the fact that the driver's license was suspended, police had a canine check out the car.

When the dog alerted, police searched the car and found a bag in the back seat where Palmer had been sitting that had a .40-caliber handgun and ammunition for it. Police learned that the gun had been reported stolen from Farmer City, Banach said.

Banach said police also had a recording of Palmer in the back of the squad car phoning a friend saying "damn pistol in the car, man" and "I got that thang in the car." Banach told the judge 'thang' is slang for handgun.

Because of prior convictions, including one for unlawful use of weapons by a felon, Palmer is not allowed to have a weapon.

Judge John Kennedy told Palmer that if convicted of the armed habitual criminal charge, he faces six to 30 years in prison.

Kennedy set his bond at $100,000 on the new charges and reinstated the $25,000 bond in the DUI case, meaning Palmer would have to post $12,500 to be released from jail.

He's due back in court July 25.

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