Judge dismisses gun charges against Fresh Start participant

Judge dismisses gun charges against Fresh Start participant

URBANA — A Champaign County judge on Friday threw out criminal charges against an Urbana man arrested for having a gun in a neighborhood where two people were shot earlier this month.

Judge Brett Olmstead declined to find that the state had shown probable cause to hold Eric Kirk for trial on a charge alleging he is an armed habitual criminal. He then dismissed the Class X felony case.

“As to Eric Kirk, this is about as thin as it can possibly get,” he said of the evidence presented at a brief hearing Friday afternoon. “I don’t believe firearms found wrapped in a T-shirt can be attributed to everyone in the house.”

In spite of the dismissal, State’s Attorney Julia Rietz said Eric Kirk is expected to be sent back to prison. She said local police contacted parole authorities, who confirmed that the mere presence of guns in Eric Kirk’s house was a violation of his parole, even if not enough for prosecution on a separate criminal charge.

Eric Kirk, 30, and his brother Darius Kirk, 21, both of the 200 block of South Grove Street, were arrested early on Nov. 1 at their home after police found two guns on the roof of a porch of their house.
Both were on parole for weapons offenses.

Police searched their house shortly after two people — a 22-year-old Urbana man and a 49-year-old Urbana woman — were hit by gunfire in that same block. No one has been arrested for or charged with shooting those people, both of whom were treated for their injuries and released.

Police continue to investigate and the state is taking steps to have the guns found at the Kirks’ home tested for the presence of DNA. Police found that more than 20 rounds had been fired in the block and some of the spent casings were found in the yard of the Kirks’ home, according to testimony from Urbana police officer Elizabeth Alfonso.

Alfonso said their home was searched and “two guns wrapped in a T-shirt” were found on the roof of the porch directly outside Darius Kirk’s second-floor bedroom. She said Eric Kirk told police that he slept in a bedroom opposite of that one.

Just a little more than three weeks before their arrests, both brothers had been invited to take part in services being offered to high-risk repeat offenders through the recently launched Fresh Start program.
Olmstead said there was enough evidence to hold Darius Kirk on a charge of aggravated unlawful use of weapons by a felon and set his case for Dec. 13 before Judge Roger Webber.

He said given that Eric Kirk was also on parole, an “inference can be drawn” that he would be motivated to stash the guns.

“That’s a really thin basis,” Olmstead said before dismissing the case.





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Cuthbert J. Twillie wrote on November 18, 2016 at 9:11 pm

That is 2 non prosecutions this week for the SA office in terms of gun crimes.   Either they need to do a better job, or turn these cases over to the Feds and let them try at it.

Local Yocal wrote on November 19, 2016 at 6:11 am
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Olmstead reinforced the rule of law will prevail, even if we don't like the result. Sometimes the police and prosecutors can't connect the dots. The parole board's standard of preponderance will likely send Kirk back into prison, but for how long, and for what purpose? What will Mr. Kirk do while in prison that will straighten out his life?

Trench5800 wrote on November 20, 2016 at 6:11 am

Mr. Kirk obviously isn't doing anything with his parole to straigthen out his life, so why should it be society's concern about what he does in prison? It seems as if he's been given ample opportunites. Even if we are to *assume* Kirk isn't responsible for the gun being at his residence, it is a violation of his parole. In my opinion, if you violate your parole, in any form, you should be sent back to the penitentiary to complete the rest of your sentence. 

As for Mr. Kirk, IDOC shows he was admitted to their custody in 2002 for Armed Robbery (11 years), in 2011 for felon in possession of a firearm (4 years) and again in 2015 for the same charge (3 years). If my math is correct, thats 18 years, backdating to 2002. This should be a clear indicator of just how ineffective the parole system is. He was being resentenced to DOC for other crimes before he was even off parole for his first crime. 

Parole is a worthless rehabilitation tool. Its only use is to clear cell space and to lessen the financial burden on the state. 

billbtri5 wrote on November 19, 2016 at 6:11 am

CCSA is trying to do something ...hope they will keep aggressively prosecuting gun violece..

Cuthbert J. Twillie wrote on November 19, 2016 at 8:11 am

Losing gun cases is something?


Turn these cases over to the Feds.;   They have a way better track record of winning.

serf wrote on November 19, 2016 at 10:11 am

You don't really get it, do you?  The 'Feds' have a better track record of winning because they aren't bound by the same rules.  They pick and choose which cases they prosecute.  State courts deal with it all, the good and the bad.  

kstyle wrote on November 19, 2016 at 10:11 am

So you want the police and state's attorney to manufacture evidence that doesn't exist?   The guns were found where they were the found, the state filed charges, the officer testified accurately and truthfully, and a judge found that it wasn't enough to sustain probable cause.  That isn't a prosecution failure.  It's the reality that sometimes there isn't enough evidence. 

serf wrote on November 19, 2016 at 10:11 am

Thank you for being reasonable.

RedWing5 wrote on November 21, 2016 at 12:11 pm

@Matt: I almost let your comment go, but, alas, I cannot.

You are a troll. It was not CPD's case. And, regardless of which department's case it was, your comment reeks of malicious intent and complete ignorance of the judicial system. 

Objective Reporter wrote on November 21, 2016 at 4:11 pm

Well said.