Hearing continued in kidnapping, sexual assault case because public defender couldn’t attend; Yohn asks why he can’t defend himself

Yohn and Lightfoot

Bradley Yohn listens to Judge Roger Thomson during a status hearing Wednesday morning in Adams County Circuit Court. Bailiff Chad Lightfoot is in the background. | David Adam

QUINCY — A status hearing in the case of Bradley Yohn, who has been charged with four Class X felonies in connection with a Nov. 9, 2021 incident, was continued for two weeks because the public defender assigned to Yohn’s case could not attend Wednesday in Adams County Circuit Court.

Public defender Vanessa Pratt appeared at the hearing on behalf of Todd Nelson, who was assigned to the case last month. Yohn, who had been defending himself Pro Se, told Judge Roger Thomson, “I can’t do this,” moments before jury selection was set to begin June 21.

Pratt told Thomson at the beginning of the hearing Nelson had asked for the case to be continued “so that he could meet with Mr. Yohn.”

“I object to any continuances, your honor,” Yohn said, expressing his wish for a speedy trial.

“Give Mr. Nelson a chance to represent you,” Thomson replied. “He is a knowledgeable attorney.”

Yohn interrupted Thomson to ask if he could ask a question.

“I would advise you to ask counsel your question,” Thomson replied. “Anything you say could be used against you.”

“I would like to ask why I was forced to take a public defender when I was Pro Se,” Yohn said.

“I was there for that hearing,” Thomson said. “I recall the conversation. Your choice was to accept the appointment of a public defender or to accept the appointment of counsel, so that was done at (that time). I advise you to let Mr. Nelson work with you and see if he can offer you any advice or assistance in your defense. He’ll be back here with you on July 20.”

Yohn wasn’t finished. “Is there a reason I was given only them options?” he asked.

Rather than answer Yohn’s question, Thomson asked Pratt for information about the next case.

Yohn, 35, is charged with home invasion, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated vehicular hijacking and aggravated criminal sexual assault with a weapon — all Class X felonies. The crimes reportedly were committed at the home of Christine “Tina” Schmitt, who died on Dec. 12.

Yohn had complained several times in court about public defender John Citro, and Thomson granted him his wish to represent himself on May 11. A week later, during Yohn’s first court appearance defending himself, Thomson asked if he would be ready for his first day of trial. “Oh, yes sir, most definitely,” Yohn replied.

During the first day of his trial on June 21, Yohn complained about the composition of the jury list, claiming it wasn’t fair that “good people who have jobs and cars” were going to be on the jury and how he “didn’t stand a chance” in front of them.

After his request for a continuance was denied, Yohn took Thomson’s offer to receive assistance from the Adams County Public Defender’s office. However, he also said he wanted to continue representing himself in the case, and that he would take the attorney at the time but planned to “fire him later” and proceed defending himself pro se.

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