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updated: 7/7/2013 4:07 PM

Former South Elgin man fails to sway judge

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Positive results are rare when a defendant acts as his own attorney.

Such was the case last week for Eric Barth, a 23-year-old formerly of South Elgin who chose to represent himself while in court seeking a bond reduction.

Barth, who in 2011 went to a state boot camp program after severely injuring an elderly couple in a 2010 drunk-driving crash, was arrested on a DUI charge on Christmas.

Months ago, the Kane County Assistant Public Defender's Office tried unsuccessfully to have Barth's $100,000 bond lowered. Barth fared no better this time around while acting as his own lawyer.

Kane County Judge Thomas Stanfa would have none of the request, saying Barth has not learned and that if anything he should increase bond.

"You're driving after having injured two people and you went to (Illinois Department of Corrections) for it," Stanfa told Barth at the end of a hearing.

Barth was sentenced to five years in prison in November 2011 on an aggravated DUI conviction for causing a head-on crash Dec. 29, 2010, in Plato Township, but caught a break when prison officials decided he was eligible for a boot camp program for young nonviolent offenders.

The crash severely injured an elderly couple from Hampshire. Authorities said Barth's blood alcohol content at the time was .27, which is more than three times the legal threshold.

Barth was arrested on another alcohol-related driving offense Dec. 25, but in court last week he argued he was sober at the time of that traffic stop, that he was a productive member of society, not a threat to the public and that he has "feelings of deep regret and remorse" over the 2010 crash.

Assistant Kane County State's Attorney Bill Engerman argued that when Barth was pulled over in the early morning hours on Dec. 25, he moved from the driver's seat to the car's rear seat.

Barth, according to the arrest report, smelled of alcohol, had bloodshot eyes, and refused to take field sobriety tests or a breath test while at the sheriff's office. Engerman also noted there was an open case of beer in the car.

Several times during questioning from Engerman, Barth invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. However, Barth, in his attorney role, had already admitted that he was driving the car.

"I'm telling you, you're not helping your lawyers assist you in this case," Stanfa told Barth during the hearing.

Barth has previous arrests for weapons and property damage and also pleaded guilty in December to misdemeanor driving with a suspended license after a November 2012 arrest and was fined $500.

He is next due in court July 17. If convicted of aggravated DUI, he faces up to three years in prison.

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