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URBANA — A Champaign County jury took less than an hour Thursday to convict an Urbana man of unlawfully possessing a weapon.

Despite the testimony of Anthony Fowler’s girlfriend that a handgun found in a vehicle he was driving Dec. 20 was hers, the jury found Fowler, 26, guilty of unlawful possession of weapons by a felon.

He faces two to 10 years in prison when sentenced Oct. 25 by Judge Tom Difanis.

Fowler, who last lived in the 3700 block of North Cunningham Avenue, has another more serious case pending alleging that he tried to kill the state’s star witness in another murder case on June 27.

He’s due in court Sept. 27 on charges of attempted murder, aggravated battery with a firearm and unlawful use of weapons by a felon in connection with the shooting of Demetrius Lane, 20. That occurred in the 2000 block of Vawter Street on the eve of Lane’s anticipated testimony in the murder trial of Kyjuan Dorsey, 19, for the murder of Jeremy O’Neal, 18, of Champaign, that happened in Champaign last October.

A mistrial was declared in Dorsey’s first trial, and when Lane recovered enough from the shots to his chest, he testified in Dorsey’s trial in August that ended in his conviction. Dorsey is scheduled to be sentenced later this month.

In Fowler’s trial this week, Darrin Short testified he was in his kitchen preparing food for his grandchildren about 2:15 a.m. when he heard four or five shots. He looked through his kitchen window and saw a vehicle without its lights on going north on Fifth Street from Columbia. He called police.

Officer Kristina Haugen was one of several officers who responded. She interviewed a woman living in the 400 block of East Columbia Avenue whose house had a bullet hole in it. That woman had also heard an argument then a series a shots then heard a vehicle speed off.

Haugen said as she was on the way to that woman’s house, she saw a sport utility vehicle going slowly east on Columbia.

Officer Chris Chambers said he stopped that SUV on Park Street near Fifth and as he got out to approach, saw a bullet hole in the rear tailgate. Fowler was in the front seat by himself. On the passenger seat near him was a Hi-Point semi-automatic gun. Fowler, who was cooperative, was arrested.

Officer Jordan Hagemann testified the gun had nine rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber ready to be fired. The gun holds only 10 bullets, he said.

Lacy Davis, Fowler’s girlfriend of five years and the mother of three of his children, testified that she had been in the borrowed SUV with Fowler earlier riding around for several hours to get a break from their children.

The gun found in the seat was hers, she said, and must have fallen out of her "hair bag," a duffle in which she carries supplies to do hairstyling. She said the gun usually was loose in her bag, which had a broken zipper.

"I got it because it was cheap. I have never fired it," she said of the gun that she had purchased only weeks before at the Rural King store in Champaign.

Asked to look at a photo and identify the gun, Davis did.

"The gun is on the seat where I was sitting. My bag was on the floor. That’s why I don’t understand why it’s on the seat," she said, adding that "stuff falls out of (her bag) all the time."

Fowler was prosecuted by Assistant State’s Attorney Troy Lozar. He was defended by Alfred Ivy of Urbana.

Because of prior convictions for aggravated battery and possession of cannabis, Fowler is not allowed to possess weapons.

 

  

Reporter

Mary Schenk is a reporter covering police, courts and breaking news at The News-Gazette. Her email is mschenk@news-gazette.com, and you can follow her on Twitter (@schenk).