Champaign man jailed after 2016 break-ins admits trespassing

Champaign man jailed after 2016 break-ins admits trespassing

URBANA — A Champaign man in custody for two years due to mental issues discovered after his arrest for two home break-ins has pleaded guilty to criminal trespass to residence.

Mark E. Davis, 49, whose last known local address was in the 1100 block of North Sixth Street, pleaded guilty before Judge Heidi Ladd on Thursday and was sentenced to a year of probation and 180 days in jail with credit for time served — two years and 18 days.

Thursday’s hearing was mild compared to others during Davis’ two-year relationship with the court in regards to residential burglaries that allegedly occurred July 14 and 23, 2016, in Champaign.

Davis pleaded guilty in connection with the July 14 charge; the other case was dismissed.

Assistant State’s Attorney Matt Banach said about 11:15 a.m. July 14, a resident of the 1100 block of Arbor Street heard a knock at his apartment door but could not see anyone when looking out the peephole. He went to another room only to hear a noise in his living room and see a man he didn’t recognize there.

When he asked what the man was doing, the man ran. Police collected a latent fingerprint from a window that was later matched to Davis.

The dismissed case involved Davis allegedly entering the apartment of a 29-year-old woman in the 700 block of West Church Street as she slept. He took her purse, but she chased him and he dropped it during a struggle. Davis was caught nearby that day and has been in custody since.

Banach said that as he prepared for trial, the victim in that case had difficulty identifying Davis as the man she believed she saw two years ago.

The court record is replete with more than a dozen rambling letters that Davis sent to Ladd, who found him unfit to stand trial in March 2017. He received mental-health treatment and was restored to fitness in July 2017.

From September to December 2017, Davis was allowed to represent himself. But in February, the judge, acting in response to an appellate court ruling in another case, appointed a lawyer for Davis while there were lingering questions about his fitness.

Had he been convicted of the two residential burglaries, Davis could have been sentenced to up to 30 years in prison. With such high stakes, judges try to discourage defendants from acting as their own attorneys.

After getting back Davis’ case, his public defender asked that a psychiatrist re-evaluate him.

In June, Dr. Albert Lo issued his opinion that Davis was fit.

During a June 18 court hearing, Ladd ordered that he be removed from the courtroom for interrupting the proceedings. Assistant Public Defender Stephanie Corum was representing him at the time — at least the third public defender who had worked with Davis.

Davis told the judge again he wanted to represent himself, but the judge wouldn’t allow it.

On Thursday, he appeared with Assistant Public Defender Katie Jessup to enter his guilty plea to the reduced felony charge.

Asked by Ladd if he was doing so of his own free will, Davis replied, “Of course.”

Banach said Davis had a prior conviction from Champaign County for theft in 2013 and four others for burglary and one for residential burglary prior to that from Cook County.

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