Judge: Theft case 'a tragedy' for defendant's family

Judge: Theft case 'a tragedy' for defendant's family

URBANA — An Urbana man who admitted he violated his probation for felony theft was resentenced Thursday to 34 months in prison.

"This is a tragedy for his family," Champaign County Judge Tom Difanis said of Dylan Rodgers.

Difanis lauded the 22-year-old man's parents "who have done everything they can to overcome" their son's mental health and substance abuse problems.

But after hearing testimony that Rodgers, who lives in the 1900 block of East Vermont Street in Urbana, allegedly pointed a gun at a person in a car next to his, Difanis said the public needed to be protected from him.

"Given his mental health history and his use of drugs, he's dangerous," said Difanis.

Rodgers was serving a sentence of two years of probation for theft for stealing a laptop computer from a home in Urbana in August 2012.

At his resentencing Thursday, Champaign police Sgt. Dennis Baltzell testified about an incident on June 14 in which Rodgers allegedly pointed a gun from his car at people in another car at Kirby and Mattis avenues. Baltzell said he went to Rodgers' home to talk to him about it a few days later. He tried to conduct a traffic stop on Rodgers but Rodgers fled from him and eventually crashed his car in a bean field in east Urbana.

In the car, Baltzell found a pistol under the seat and a loaded magazine in the glove compartment. Rodgers is not allowed to have a weapon because of a prior conviction and he does not have a firearm owner's identification card, Baltzell said. Rodgers' father told police the gun was his.

Rodgers has been charged with unlawful use of weapons by a felon in connection with his June arrest. Assistant State's Attorney Sarah Carlson said she intends to pursue that prosecution.

She asked for a three-year prison term for Rodgers while Assistant Public Defender George Vargas asked for a community-based sentence to address Rodgers' substance abuse and mental issues.

Difanis noted that Rodgers has had many chances at help and that his parents have done "everything they can to get his behavior under control."

The judge agreed to recommend Rodgers for the Department of Corrections' boot camp program.

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Stephen44 wrote on August 03, 2014 at 9:08 am
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I laud Judge Difanis for his diplomacy but this young man needs therapy not prison. If there's no therapy in prison then he'll come out twice as bad and dangerous. Help this man! Prison is a place where you can incorporate deviant activities with an already disturbed person. I hope he gets help from the state since his parents couldn't help this young man.