Champaign man 'tired of prison' receives 6-year term

Champaign man 'tired of prison' receives 6-year term

URBANA — A Champaign man who was given a chance last summer to avoid prison for cocaine possession wasn't as lucky this time around.

Martines Gill, 32, of the 400 block of Fairview Drive, was resentenced earlier this week to six years in prison for the drug conviction that stemmed from his arrest in the fall of 2015.

Last June, Gill assured Judge Thomas Difanis, who had been sitting in judgment of him for 20-plus years, that he was ready and willing to change his criminal ways.

Difanis took a chance, noting that the multiple-convicted Gill had been crime-free for 20 months between when he was found passed out in a car in Champaign with drugs and a gun in his lap and the time of his sentencing for possessing about an ounce of cocaine.

He sentenced Gill to four years of probation at the time.

But just two months later, the state took steps to revoke his probation after a Sept. 16 incident in which he allegedly fled from Champaign police who saw him driving around, knowing his license was revoked.

Court records show that Gill, who was first sentenced as a juvenile in 1995 for criminal trespass, had four previous convictions for fleeing and eluding police as well as others for resisting arrest, obstructing justice, domestic battery and driving under revocation.

In January, Difanis found that Gill had violated his probation. As a condition of his bond, Gill was ordered to live at SAFE House, a faith-based drug rehabilitation center in Urbana. But he apparently left there before completing the program.

To aggravate Gill's sentence, Assistant State's Attorney Troy Lozar called a 51-year-old Champaign man to testify about Gill's alleged attack on him late last summer.

The man testified he had allowed Gill, whom he had known about three years, to stay in his home. He said in late August, he and Gill argued and Gill allegedly knocked him "across the room." The man said while he didn't retaliate, he was fearful of Gill and asked him to move out but he wouldn't.

On Sept. 14, the man testified, he and Gill got into an argument that escalated into a physical confrontation. The older man testified he used a baseball bat in self-defense and hit Gill repeatedly as Gill allegedly grabbed him by the neck, dragged him to the kitchen and tried to choke him.

Champaign police officer Mason Voges testified that Gill was gone by the time he arrived at the man's house, where he found much blood.

That confrontation resulted in charges of aggravated domestic battery, domestic battery and unlawful restraint against Gill which remain unresolved.

Lozar argued for a prison sentence for Gill, saying that he had "squandered" what was a "fairly generous sentence" that Difanis imposed last year.

Defense attorney Dan Jackson said Gill regretted his decision to leave the drug treatment program and argued that Gill got the worse end of the stick in the confrontation with the older man in September. He asked the judge to give Gill another chance at probation "to address his problems."

Gill, whose father Difanis successfully prosecuted for murder in 1994, apologized to the judge.

"All I can do is continue to work on myself. I'm tired of prison. I know my actions don't show that," he said.

Difanis gave Gill credit on his sentence for 319 days already served.

Sections (2):News, Local