Jury Duty

2 08 2007

Two locals were “checking out” (read: 4-wheeling and smoking pot) an area commonly known as the Pekin Bottoms in a friend’s Jeep around midnight. When they saw a car in the area, they were “concerned” that a person may be in distress – as this is an area cars don’t usually traverse due to the rough terrain. After driving by once they decided to turn around and check it out.

Upon their return they noticed someone crouching behind the car holding a shotgun. At that time they vacated the premises, only to have three shots fired at them as they drove away. They called 911 and arranged to meet the officers. As they were talking to the police, the car sped by, alluding police on a high speed chase for several miles.

The police came upon the abandoned car by a corn field. All of the doors were left open and the occupants were nowhere in the vicinity. The driver was located under a tractor. The passenger/shooter was found hiding in a deep freezer in his home. A witness stated that the defendant shot at the Jeep because it was too close to his friend’s car.

So many things about this case boggled my mind –
1. Although it might not be appropriate to trespass and 4-wheel, one doing so has a reasonable expectation that they would not be shot at.
2. Who really takes the police on a high speed chase?
3. Who hides under a tractor?
4. Who hides in a deep freezer (isn’t there some risk of suffocation)?

I was dumbfounded at times and found it tempting to laugh. I also wanted to raise my hand and ask questions – like “How long were you in the deep freezer?” It is very interesting to decide the fate of your fellow man…

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8 12 2007
Most Prepossessing

Local man convicted in shooting
Published: Thursday, August 2, 2007 1:23 PM CDT
PEORIA (GHNS) – A rural Peoria County man faces up to 15 years in prison after a jury found him guilty Wednesday of shooting at two people in the Pekin Bottoms this spring.The jury deliberated for about 2 1/2 hours before finding Thomas L. Zimmerman, 19, of 5925 W. U.S. Route 24 guilty of two counts of aggravated discharge of a firearm and one count of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon in connection with the April 22 incident.He was acquitted of lesser counts of reckless discharge of a firearm. Zimmerman remains in custody at the Peoria County Jail pending his Sept. 24 sentencing, where he faces either probation or between four and 15 years in prison.
During the two-day trial, Assistant State’s Attorney Brian FitzSimons argued Zimmerman and others had been camping in the bottoms, an area roughly bounded by Illinois Route 9, Route 24 and the Illinois River, and got upset when a jeep was off-roading in the area.Zimmerman, the prosecutor told the jury, fired three to four shots in the direction of the jeep. Defense attorney Mark Rose countered, saying that assuming his client did fire the shotgun, he didn’t fire it in the direction of the jeep or in a way that harmed the people inside, legal factors that could acquit his client.But FitzSimons used the testimony of a Peoria County Sheriff’s detective who had questioned Zimmerman. Detective Jim Hajnal said Zimmerman admitted to him to firing the gun in the air and then fleeing the scene.
That fit with what another sheriff’s deputy’s testimony. That deputy said he arrived after being called for shots fired and wound up chasing a car that matched the description the victims had given. A high-speed chase ensued with speeds reaching close to 85 mph, and the shotgun was allegedly tossed from the car and later recovered by Zimmerman

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