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posted: 9/5/2012 4:20 PM

Glendale Heights man acquitted of murder gets another chance

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  • George M. Panos

      George M. Panos

 
 

George M. Panos was homeless and sleeping in a Wheaton parking garage last October after being acquitted of murder in the suffocation death of his elderly father.

Less than two weeks later, the 48-year-old man was charged with failing to register as a sex offender and returned to the DuPage County jail. The former Glendale Heights resident eventually pleaded guilty.

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On Wednesday, DuPage Judge George Bakalis sentenced Panos to two years' probation for the failing to register as a sex offender conviction. And unlike the last time he was freed, Panos has someplace to go.

Public defender Jeff York says Panos is going to travel Thursday to Peoria and stay at a facility that's geared toward helping homeless and needy men. The hope is that Panos will get the counseling and treatment he needs to become self-sufficient.

"For the first time in his life, there is a plan," York said in court. "He has a place to provide him the tools to stand on his own."

Bakalis said it's up to Panos to take advantage of the assistance that will be offered to him at the facility.

"At some point, you've got to step up and say, 'I am going to do something with the years I have left,'" Bakalis said to Panos.

Panos must register as a sex offender in Peoria. That requirement has been in place since Panos was convicted several years ago of sexually abusing a teenage boy.

During Wednesday's hearing, prosecutor Anne Therieau sought a five-year prison term for Panos.

Therieau pointed to Panos' extensive criminal history, which dates back more than 25 years and includes charges of domestic battery, drug possession, public indecency and drunken driving.

"The best judge of future behavior is the past behavior," said Therieau, adding that Panos already has squandered numerous opportunities to turn his life around. "He has to act like the 48-year-old man he is."

York said this time is different for Panos. "He is not going to have his family take care of him while he sits around and drinks and does drugs," York said.

Panos was found not guilty of first-degree murder on Oct. 28, 2011 in connection with the January 2009 death of his father, 78-year-old George Panos Sr.

During the murder trial, prosecutors said the younger Panos confessed multiple times to smothering his elderly father with a pillow. But an autopsy found no signs of foul play on the victim, who suffered from serious ailments including Parkinson's disease and emphysema.

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