Rape trial might be delayed for former Illinois basketball player after defendant in a different rape trial gets sick

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

Illinois basketball player Terrence Edward Shannon, left, is pictured with his attorney, Thomas Bath, right, at a hearing on Friday, May 10, 2024, in Douglas County District Court. Shannon was ordered to stand trial on a rape charge for an incident at a Lawrence bar in September 2023.

The rape trial of former star Illinois University basketball player Terrence Shannon might be delayed after a defendant in an unrelated rape trial became ill on Monday.

Shannon, 23, of Champaign, Illinois, was set to go to trial on June 10 in connection with a rape charge for an incident at a Lawrence bar in September 2023, as the Journal-World reported. His trial had been expedited in an effort to resolve the charge prior to the NBA Draft later this month, but now the scheduling of Shannon’s trial is uncertain. He is currently free on a $50,000 bond.

Both the judge and prosecutor in Shannon’s case — Judge Sally Pokorny and Deputy District Attorney Joshua Seiden — are involved in the other rape trial, which began last week and which has now been delayed due to the illness of the defendant, George Joseph Burgess Jr.

The trial for Burgess, 45, began May 28, for two counts of rape and 11 counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child. The charges are in connection with a series of events that occurred between 2017 and 2019 in Douglas County. He faces life in prison if convicted on any of the 13 counts. The alleged victim testified on Thursday that the abuse began when she was about 5 years old.

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

George Burgess appears at his rape trial on June 3, 2024, in Douglas County District Court.

Burgess’ trial was set during the short holiday week, and the jury selection process took two full days, with opening arguments and the girl’s hourslong testimony on Thursday. The trial was set to conclude Monday with closing statements to be made on Tuesday, followed by jury deliberations. However, when the trial was to resume on Monday, Burgess reported that he was sick.

Burgess was tested for COVID-19, for which he was negative, but Pokorny said that the symptoms Burgess was exhibiting showed that he was clearly sick and that he would not likely be able to effectively assist his attorneys, Dakota Loomis and Branden Smith.

Loomis said it would not be realistic to work with Burgess while he was in another room and that it would not be fair to Burgess if he chooses to testify to do so while sick. Loomis said that Burgess had begun exhibiting symptoms on Sunday and those symptoms had worsened overnight.

Pokorny said that to give Burgess the best chance at recovering and to finish the trial, his case would be delayed a full week and resume on June 10, the day the Shannon trial is set to start. She said it could take as much as three days to finish evidence and for the jury to deliberate in the Burgess case.

Burgess’ trial could be further delayed or result in a mistrial if the jurors are unable to return, Pokorny said. The majority of the jurors told the court they were confident they could return next week, but one juror said she was unable to and two others told the court “maybe.” She said if the jurors are unavailable, then the parties would discuss their options further.

Burgess is currently in custody at the Douglas County Jail on a $100,000 bond.

Another delay caused by Burgess’ trial includes that of Nicholas Laron Beaver, 32, of Topeka, who is charged in Douglas County District Court with one count of second-degree murder in connection with the shooting death of Vincent Lee Walker, 39, of Lawrence, on March 5, 2024, at a bus stop across from the Lawrence Public Library in the 700 block of Vermont Street. Beaver was scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Monday, but Seiden is also the prosecutor on that case, and the hearing was canceled. It is scheduled for a status conference Tuesday morning. He is currently in custody on a $1 million bond.


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