Monday, September 25, 2017

Jury returns Grant to Big Muddy

GG09-James_Grant-policeA trial case for Buncombe native James E. Grant came to a close Thursday, July 18 with the jury deliberating for approximately 90 minutes before declaring that Grant remained a sexually dangerous person.

According to court documents, Grant was declared a sexually dangerous person on April 16, 2002, and was committed into the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections where he was to remain until he recovered.

“The human component is always the hardest part in these types of cases,” Johnson County State’s Attorney Tambra K. Cain said.  “It is always painful for victims to testify about matters that they would prefer to put behind them.”

Cain represented the state in the case saying that she began preparing for it shortly after taking office in December of 2012 knowing that Grant filed an application for discharge or conditional release in May of 2012.  His application alleged that he was no longer sexually dangerous and the Department of Corrections recommended his release.

“I had serious concerns after reviewing the file and felt that Mr. Grant continued to pose a threat to the community,” Cain said.  “My primary concern arose from the fact that Mr. Grant has not participated in sex offender counseling or taken advantage of any other treatment offered.”

Most of the details in the case were heard before as Grant filed applications for discharge on two previous occasions, once in 2005 and then again in 2009, with the first being voluntarily dismissed by Grant and the second leading to a bench trial before the Honorable James R. Williamson.  In February of 2011, the court held that Grant remained a sexually dangerous person and he was returned to Big Muddy where treatment was available, but according to testimony in last week’s trial, Grant declined to participate.

“The sexually dangerous person commitment came from case number 1999-cf-106, which is a residential burglary case,” Cain said.  “Mr. Grant has previously been convicted of two other prior residential burglaries in cases numbering 1999-cf-107 and 1999-cf-108, as well as a home invasion in case number 1999-cf-105. While these cases are not classified as sex offenses, they all appear to be sexually motivated.”

The eight women and four-man jury heard expert testimony from the state’s witness Dr. Angeline Stanislaus, MD.  Stanislaus, a board certified forensic psychiatrist with extensive experience in sex offender evaluations, testified that it was her opinion that Grant remained a sexually dangerous person.

“He still does not believe he’s a sex offender, so he sees no need to change his behavior,” Stanislaus testified the third day of the four-day trial.

When asked by the state’s assisting prosecutor, Illinois Appellate Prosecutor’s Office’s Lorinda Lamken, if there were any conditions that could be placed on Grant to allow him to safely return to his community, Stanislaus said, “No.”

“We had favorable evidence, the State had favorable evidence.  Really [it was] just up to the jury,” said Grant’s lawyer Cord Wittig after the trail.  “We’ll be filing an appeal to get it up to Mt. Vernon.”

Grant’s family and friends attended the trial and Wittig said Grant had expected to be discharged after it was over.

“It is important to remember that the applicants who claim to be recovered sexually dangerous persons have families that care about the individual,” state’s attorney Cain said.  “It doesn’t get any easier for victims to relive their ordeal, nor does it get any easier for the families of the applicants to hear the bad conduct of their loved ones.”

Cain said that even though the odds were in Grant’s favor for his release due to the Department of Corrections recommending it, she felt it was her duty to the people of Johnson County to proceed with the state’s objection.  Grant was returned to Big Muddy River Correctional Center where he will continue to be offered sex offender treatment, said Cain.  He has 30 days to file an appeal and is eligible to file another application for release in one year.

“We were pleased with the jury’s verdict,” prosecutor Lamken said.  “It was a very technical case and we feel like they took a lot of time to look at all the evidence and listen to all the witnesses carefully and we’re pleased with the outcome.”

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