Jury convicts man in aggravated battery, weapon case
URBANA — A Champaign man who brought a gun to a home to retrieve a box fan is looking at up to 30 years in prison.
A Champaign County jury deliberated about three hours Wednesday before convicting Lynntez Holt, 36, of aggravated battery with a firearm and aggravated discharge of a firearm.
However, the five women and seven men agreed that Holt did not intend to murder Hymme Hogue as the two men argued over Holt taking the fan from Hogue's home. Judge Tom Difanis set Holt's sentencing for Oct. 3.
Testimony at the two-day trial was that Hogue, 47, of Indianapolis, had come to Champaign about a year ago to evict a tenant from the home that he co-owned with his sister.
Hogue testified that he arrived at his Park Street home on the afternoon of Aug. 31 and changed the locks before going out. Later that evening, he returned to the house with his friend, Theresa Burnett of Champaign.
He said early on Sept. 1, they were in the living room on the couch when they heard noises on the porch and Burnett saw men looking in the windows. They heard a knock on the door. Seeing that it was Holt, whom he had known "for years," Hogue answered.
Hogue said another man was there with Holt. That man was never criminally charged.
They walked to the kitchen and Holt told Hogue that he wanted to retrieve some items that he had stored there. Holt said he did not want to let Hogue do that because he wasn't sure what belonged to the renter and what belonged to Hogue.
"I said no. It escalated until he insisted," Holt testified.
Hogue said Holt reached into his waistband, pulled out a semi-automatic pistol and raised it.
"It came all the way up. The next thing I know, I'm shot in the head. I may have hit his arm," said Hogue, adding he was unable to get the gun from Holt. "I know I'm shot. Smoke was coming out of my head."
Blood was dripping down his face from a horizontal cut to his forehead of one to two inches.
Hogue said he ran and hid in another part of the house and didn't come out until he heard footsteps leaving.
Burnett, meantime, said she had remained in the living room while the men were in the kitchen but could clearly hear the dispute followed by a gunshot.
"I got scared. A gentleman came in. I got behind the couch and he said, 'Oh, you're okay' and picked up the fan and left," Burnett said, adding she saw the gun in the man's hand when he came in the living room and saw him again through the window as he rode off on a bicycle carrying the fan. Seeing Hogue's bloody face, the frightened Burnett told him she didn't want to be involved and left the house before police arrived about 3:30 a.m.
Several days later, at Hogue's request, Burnett agreed to tell a Champaign police detective what she had heard and seen. She also picked Holt out of a photo lineup as the man with the gun. A warrant was issued for Holt's arrest on Sept. 12, 2013, but it wasn't until May that Holt was picked up. His last known address was on Hollyhill Drive in Champaign. He's been in custody since his May arrest.
Champaign police officers Ashley Petkunas and Sgt. Aaron Lack both testified that Hogue was agitated and appeared to be in shock when they arrived. After not cooperating at first, they said Hogue eventually allowed them in the home, explaining where the confrontation took place and allowing them to search the house.
Lack said officers found a gouge in the woodwork and a bullet fragment that were consistent with Hogue's explanation of what happened.
They also found a gun and drug paraphernalia in the house that Hogue maintained belonged to his renter. A gunshot residue kit performed on Hogue did not indicate he had recently fired a gun.
Holt's attorney, Assistant Public Defender George Vargas, tried to cast doubt on Hogue's version of what happened, saying that parts of it didn't make sense. But Assistant State's Attorney Troy Lozar said there was no evidence to contradict the testimony of Hogue and Burnett.