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posted: 1/12/2014 5:33 PM

Aurora man gets chance to fight conviction, 70-year sentence

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  • Charles L. Minard

      Charles L. Minard

 
 

Christopher R. House in still in prison, but he has a chance to challenge his conviction and subsequent 70-year sentence for a 2006 murder in Aurora.

An appellate court panel recently ruled that House's petition that he filed on his own was improperly dismissed by a Kane County judge.

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House's petition argued a variety of issues, including that he received ineffective counsel when his attorney failed to file a motion seeking to quash his arrest and suppress evidence based on lack of probable cause.

Kane County Judge Timothy Sheldon, who has since retired, dismissed House's petition in December 2011, saying it was not accompanied by a notarized affidavit.

The appellate panel disagreed, citing a section of the law that allows a defendant to submit a petition if the information contained in it is true to the best of his knowledge.

House was convicted of shooting and killing Antoine T. Bell, 28, of Aurora, on Jan. 6, 2006, while he sat in a car on the 1000 block of Grand Avenue.

A date for a new judge to hear House's petition has not been set. If a judge determines House's attorney was ineffective, he could be granted a new trial.

House is incarcerated at the Menard Correctional Center. He is scheduled for release in January 2076, when he would be 104.

Man fights police statements: A 42-year-old Aurora man who tried to kill himself last March after his longtime girlfriend died from a heroin overdose is trying to have his statements to police disallowed from court.

Charles L. Minard was charged with drug-induced homicide. He faces six to 30 years in prison if convicted of providing the fatal dose to 41-year-old Taffie Thompson, who was found dead in a home on the 900 block of Grove Street in Aurora on March 25, 2013.

Minard slit his wrists afterward and was found on a couch at the home. He told police he decided to kill himself after learning Thompson had died, according to testimony from a court hearing last week before Judge Clint Hull.

Minard's defense attorneys sought to show he was suffering from heroin withdrawal, was vomiting, and under the influence of medication when questioned by detectives at Presence Mercy Medical Center in Aurora and, therefore, any statement was not given voluntarily. Minard's attorneys argued he was not free to leave, nor was he advised of his right to remain silent.

"Mr. Minard did not want to participate in police questioning but felt the only way to get police to leave him alone to rest and recover was to acquiesce to their questioning," his attorneys wrote in court documents, "Officers knew that if Mr. Minard became aware of his rights, he may not speak freely and incriminate himself the way he ultimately did."

Prosecutors, however, emphasized that Minard was not under arrest at the time he talked to detectives at the hospital. Minard was eventually charged in April 2013.

The hearing will resume Jan. 23 when Hull will hear testimony from the lead police investigator as well as hear a recorded statement from Minard.

hhitzeman@dailyherald.com

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