Man sentenced to three years on gun charge

Man sentenced to three years on gun charge

URBANA — A convicted felon who admitted he possessed a loaded gun last winter has been sentenced to three years in prison.

Mark A. Barber, 31, whose last known address was on Toni Lane in Urbana, pleaded guilty Monday before Judge Tom Difanis to aggravated unlawful use of weapons as his case was ready to be tried by a jury.

He'll have to serve the sentence after he finishes another three-year sentence he received the same day he was arrested for the Feb. 23 offense.

On March 13, he pleaded guilty to possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance for trying to peddle cocaine in south Urbana in October 2013. After court that day, Urbana police interviewed him about the February incident and arrested him.

Assistant State's Attorney Sarah Carlson said officers were called to an apartment in the 1300 block of Silver Street, where a man and his female friend told police that a man came in, argued with them and fired two shots from a semiautomatic handgun that penetrated walls. No humans were hit.

Barber admitted to police he was present with the loaded gun but denied firing it.

However, police had three witnesses that they believed would say otherwise and security video that showed him entering the apartment. Based on that, prosecutors charged Barber with being an armed habitual criminal and aggravated discharge of a firearm in addition to the aggravated unlawful use of weapons.

However, Carlson said as she prepared for trial, the witnesses told her and police they would not testify truthfully.

"The victims were not at all cooperative," Carlson said. "(Urbana police investigator) Dave Smysor and I spent multiple days trying to track them down."

Carlson said the man who was inside the apartment when Barber allegedly fired the gun said he would not testify, even if forced to come to court. The woman inside the apartment was related to Barber, Carlson said, and also didn not want to testify against him. Neither did the other man who supposedly saw Barber go in.

"We put a lot of effort into this for people who didn't care," Carlson said.

Barber was given credit on his sentence in the weapons case for 156 days already served. He is eligible for day-for-day good time on his sentence.

Court records show he has prior convictions for domestic battery, aggravated battery and possession of a controlled substance.

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billbtri5 wrote on August 26, 2014 at 2:08 pm

did your best, may prevent a shooting later down the road...

Rob.. wrote on August 26, 2014 at 5:08 pm

 They didn't prevent anything at all! He will be back out in less than a year for shooting a gun just to do it all over again. Later down the road? HAHAHAHA! That was a joke right? The state's attorney steady giving pleas for violent crimes when they need to give them that full 30! Why to these people even get charged as a armed habitual criminal anyway? The charges never stick and these people get so little time or no time at all it is ridiculous.!

Rob.. wrote on August 26, 2014 at 5:08 pm

 Great comment buddy.... I hope you meant it as a joke. Did their best? HAHAHAHA! This guy was facing 30 years or more and only received 3 years for shooting a gun.. He will be out in less than a year on the gun case so that won't prevent anything In reality this is just going to give him more reason to do it again just like all these other people catching gun cases and getting charges dropped coming right back to do the same thing. This is ridiculous and is what is the problem with Champaign! 3 years for shooting a gun is a slap on the wrist, people get more time for driving without a license.