Champaign man sentenced to 10 years in absentia for stealing cigarettes

Champaign man sentenced to 10 years in absentia for stealing cigarettes

URBANA — A Champaign man who admitted to a judge a month ago that he stole several hundred dollars worth of cigarettes from a gas station has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

However, Terrell Holt, 26, who last lived in the 800 block of North State Street, wasn't present Thursday to hear Judge Tom Difanis impose that sentence.

"He went into the Circle K, he stole a lot of cigarettes. He got his GED but he's unemployed. He has four children he doesn't support. That speaks volumes," Difanis said.

"He's not a dangerous person," Difanis said. But the judge said probation would deprecate the seriousness of Holt's offenses.

Holt pleaded guilty in August to the Oct. 4, 2016, theft of about $455 worth of cigarettes from the Circle K, 507 W. University Ave., U. In return, other more serious counts alleging robbery and aggravated robbery for that crime were dismissed.

Assistant State's Attorney Larry Solava also dismissed two other cases in which Holt was charged with domestic battery and residential burglary.

However, Solava presented evidence from a former Urbana police officer who helped arrest Holt in an Oct. 10 residential burglary in the 900 block of East Park Street.

In that break-in, the resident was at work when he received notifications from his security company that there was movement inside his house.

Former Urbana Officer Matthew McElhoe testified that police arrived in time to arrest three men, one of them being Holt. Police found a muddy footprint on the door and items belonging to the victim gathered as if they were to be hauled off.

Solava recommended the 10-year sentence, noting Holt's prior convictions for forgery, residential burglary, theft, criminal damage to property and domestic battery. Holt's attorney, Dan Jackson of Champaign, argued that Holt's crimes were mostly property crimes committed to support Holt's drug habit.

Jackson told the judge he had no information on where his client was.

He asked Difanis to fashion a sentence that would give Holt "direction."

Holt was given credit for 306 days already served. Difanis had allowed Holt to be released on his own recognizance after he pleaded guilty in August.

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rsp wrote on September 21, 2017 at 8:09 pm

He asked Difanis to fashion a sentence that would give Holt "direction."

Go to jail. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. There. "Direction". Four kids need food on the table, a roof over their heads, shoes. They sure as heck don't need cigarettes.

GLG wrote on September 21, 2017 at 8:09 pm

"Difanis had allowed Holt to be released on his own recognizance after he pleaded guilty in August."

His honor should do the fugitives time untill he can be found and locked up!  Judge Tom is getting soft in his old age, He used to be a tough guy when HE was the SA!

jparks wrote on September 21, 2017 at 9:09 pm

I agree.

Christopher Todd Durnil wrote on September 22, 2017 at 10:09 pm
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Shame on Mary Schenk and on the News-Gazette for their misleading headline.  Terrell Holt was given his sentence because he FAILED to appear in court - NOT because he stole cigarettes.  This is the kind of thing that starts riots.


 

rsp wrote on September 23, 2017 at 6:09 pm

That's not quite accuate either. We don't know what the sentence would have been if he appeared, but it would have likely been different. According to the record they considered him for drug court but his original charges were too high. I'm wondering if they were trying to get him in and he blew it. Some people will do that.

Roanrider wrote on September 27, 2017 at 9:09 am

Seriously? People are going to riot over whether he failed to appear in court or he stole cigarettes?? Get a grip.