DECATUR – After deliberating for almost four hours Wednesday, jurors convicted Shaun Dandridge, 38, of Decatur of being an armed habitual criminal for possessing a firearm while having two prior felony convictions.
He will be sentenced to a term of between six and 30 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections, to be determined by Associate Macon County Judge Jeffrey Geisler at a May 9 hearing.
Assistant State's Attorney Kate Kurtz presented an eyewitness who testified that she saw a man open fire on the red SUV in which Dandridge was a passenger about 8 p.m. June 4 in the vicinity of West Packard Street and North Oakland Avenue.
The witness testified that there were children nearby when an unknown man shot at the vehicle and when Dandridge brandished guns at the same location a short time later. She said she called 911 and followed the red SUV because she was concerned that someone might have been injured during the shooting.
Decatur police officers testified that a loaded handgun was found in the SUV a short time later, inside a bag which was connected to Dandridge because it held a cellphone box with the same number as his phone.
Jurors were deadlocked for several hours. There had been inconsistent testimony as to whether Dandridge was in possession of one or two firearms. Another contentious issue was whether Dandridge was legally in possession of the firearm found in the vehicle.
Assistant Public Defender Thomas Wheeler represented Dandridge. After jury selection was completed Monday, he filed a motion to discharge the jury panel because there had been no African-Americans among the prospective jurors. The motion was denied on the grounds that African-Americans were not systematically excluded.
Dandridge has four prior felony convictions in Macon County cases for which he has served four prison terms: a 10-year sentence for a 1996 armed robbery conviction; a three-year sentence for a 2004 forgery conviction; and two five-year terms for 2010 convictions in narcotics cases.