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Illinois jury convicts drug suspect in absentia

An Illinois jury convicted a former Aurora resident of unlawful delivery of illegal drugs on May 23 even though he was not present in the courtroom to hear the verdict read. Reports indicate that a Kane County judge issued a warrant for the 40-year-old man's arrest after he failed to appear for his trial on May 22. The man's sentencing hearing has been scheduled for June 6. He faces a custodial sentence of between nine and 40 years.

Before the verdict was handed down, prosecutors provided evidence that a co-defendant in the case had entered into an agreement to sell four ounces of cocaine to undercover police officers for $3,500 in December 2012. The undercover officers were members of the North Central Narcotics Task Force according to reports. The narcotics officers claim that they took the defendant into custody when he arrived at the meeting to provide the co-defendant with the drugs. The co-defendant was sentenced to six years in prison after pleading guilty to unlawful delivery charges in 2014.

The man did appear in court as recently as May 18 for final pretrial hearings. Records reveal that the trial has been delayed on several occasions, and three judges have heard arguments in the case. The man's attorneys questioned the validity of the drug charges on Fourth Amendment grounds, but the subsequent motion to dismiss was rejected.

Experienced criminal defense attorneys may caution their clients against fleeing even when their situations seem dire. Hoping to avoid law enforcement for any significant period of time in the information age is not realistic, and attorneys may find it extremely difficult to mount any kind of a credible defense when their clients have absconded.

Source: The Chicago Tribune, "Oswego man convicted in absentia of selling cocaine", Dan Campana, May 24, 2017

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