Second man gets 10 years in Champaign burglary where cop, canine attacked

Second man gets 10 years in Champaign burglary where cop, canine attacked

URBANA — A Champaign man who played a part in a burglary at a Champaign home that resulted in an attack on a police officer and her canine partner has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The sentence for Demetrius Gibbs, 28, who last lived in the 1700 block of Henry Street, was the same one that co-defendant Anthony Bailey, 21, received about a month ago after he pleaded guilty to residential burglary and aggravated battery to Champaign police Officer Kristina Haugen.

"Equity dictates that I cannot sentence this gentleman to any more than what his co-defendant received," said Judge Tom Difanis, who added that had he been given the chance, he would likely have sentenced Bailey to many more years behind bars.

Bailey entered into a plea agreement worked out between Assistant State's Attorney Troy Lozar and Assistant Public Defender Ben Dyer for the set number of 10 years in prison. In return for pleading guilty to residential burglary and aggravated battery, Lozar agreed to dismiss a charge of attempted disarming of a peace officer.

The only evidence against Bailey, who ran from the scene, Lozar noted, was a tip from Gibbs, who would not allow police to record his statements and admitted in court Tuesday that he was scared he would be hurt in jail if he cooperated with police.

Gibbs, on the other hand, was caught moments after jumping from a second-story window of the home he had broken into and tried to eat evidence police had seized from him. Lozar also noted that Gibbs' criminal record was worse than Bailey's.

Gibbs entered into an "open" plea, admitting his guilt for residential burglary and obstructing justice but choosing to have Difanis review his background and arrive at a sentence.

Lozar had presented evidence about what happened June 16 that he hoped would sway Difanis into handing Gibbs a harsher sentence.

He first called the victim of the break-in, who testified that he was in Wisconsin when he received an alert on his cellphone that someone was inside his house on Park Haven Court that Friday night.

'Fighting for my life'

The homeowner testified that he called METCAD from Wisconsin to get police there, then continued to watch a live video showing two men rummaging through his kitchen drawers and trying to get a large flat-screen television off his family-room wall.

He identified several police photos showing other ransacked rooms, including one of his 2-year-old daughter's mattress flipped off her bed.

The homeowner testified that he could hear the screams of Haugen and Bailey as they engaged in a violent encounter.

Haugen testified that as one of the first officers at the house, she saw two men through the kitchen door who went in different directions when they saw her. She sent her canine partner in and the dog alerted on the bathroom door. She said Bailey was behind it, announcing that he would give up because he didn't want to be hurt by the dog.

Haugen said as she reached for the dog, Bailey sprayed both her and the dog with pepper spray.

"He probably emptied a whole can in my face," she said. "He punched me in the face several times. We were fighting."

Haugen said Bailey threw her to the ground, got on top of her and tried to grab her gun as he continued to hit her. The house was dark and she had been blinded by the pepper spray.

Choking back tears, Haugen said, "I didn't know where my dog was. At that point, I felt I was fighting for my life."

In the confusion, her canine partner accidentally bit her right leg, leaving her with multiple puncture wounds that caused her to be off work two weeks.

"I was trying to keep my gun and defend myself," she said, adding that the dog biting her apparently scared Bailey off. He ran upstairs and she was able to redirect her canine partner to pursue him.

'He ran into a tree'

Bailey escaped and about the same time, officers who had surrounded the house saw a second-story screen pop out and Gibbs jump out the window.

Officer Jonathan Kristensen testified that he tackled Gibbs, who fought back and broke free from his grasp.

"As he turns to run, he ran into a tree, and that slowed him down a bit," Kristensen said.

After a minutes-long tussle that involved as many as five officers, Gibbs was handcuffed.

Officer Jordan Wells said he put Gibbs in the back of a squad car, with his hands cuffed behind him. Wells said he removed items from Gibbs' pockets and rolled them into gloves that Gibbs had been wearing. Wells put the ball of evidence on the front seat of his car because he didn't have immediate access to an evidence bag.

Moments later, when he went to move Gibbs to another squad car, he saw Gibbs chewing on the gloves he had previously seized. Gibbs had gotten his cuffed hands in front of him and had put the items back in his pockets. That activity was the basis of the obstructing-justice charge to which he pleaded guilty.

Detective Jeremiah Christian also testified that Gibbs talked to now-retired Detective Pat Kelly that night, sharing only the birth date of Bailey but not his full name.

When police found Bailey the next day, they also found evidence linking him to at least three other residential burglaries, Christian testified.

'His heart had changed'

To lessen Gibbs' sentence, Assistant Public Defender Stephanie Corum had Emmanuel Lynch, who described himself as a chaplain in the Piatt and Champaign county jails, testify about the positive change he's observed in Gibbs over the last four months of regular meetings with him.

"His tattoos on his face will never change but his heart had changed," Lynch said.

Lozar argued for a 15-year sentence for Gibbs, whose criminal record actually made him eligible for 30 years. His prior convictions included state and federal weapons offenses, aggravated domestic battery and disorderly conduct.

The injuries to Haugen by Bailey and to two other officers who helped get Gibbs in custody showed that what happened June 16 "was more than just a simple property crime," Lozar said.

Lozar said prior trips to prison have done little to deter Gibbs' criminal behavior.

"When he gets out, he chooses to reoffend," Lozar said.

Corum said Gibbs had a "hard life" as a teen, living in four states, "bounced around by family" because his parents were drug addicts who were both imprisoned.

She said her client's drug use led him to crime. She reminded the judge that Gibbs did give police a bit of help that led them to Bailey.

Gibbs apologized to the homeowner, saying he also has daughters and has been the victim of a break-in.

He also apologized to the police.

"I didn't mean to hurt them, to resist. I was high at the time," he said.

Gibbs acknowledged making many mistakes, including affiliating with gangs "because I wanted to be loved. I now see they only loved what I can do for them."

Difanis called the crime "outrageous," given the attack on Haugen, the looting of the home and the fight with the officers.

But he said what Gibbs did was less serious than what Bailey did.

Difanis agreed to recommend Gibbs for drug treatment while in prison.

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