Judge allows Yohn to defend himself in carjacking, home invasion case; trial scheduled to start June 21

Citro leaves courtroom 2

Public defender John Citro walks out of Courtroom 2A in the Adams County Courthouse after Judge Roger Thomson ruled Wednesday morning that Bradley Yohn could defend himself. | David Adam

QUINCY — Bradley Yohn got what he wanted.

The Springfield man, charged in a November 2021 carjacking and home invasion in Adams County, has complained about public defender John Citro for the past few months. Yohn asked Judge Amy Lannerd to dismiss Citro as counsel on April 19, and he asked Judge Michael Atterberry to hire him a lawyer on April 29.

Judge Roger Thomson granted Yohn his wish during a hearing Wednesday morning in Adams County Circuit Court. Yohn will defend himself Pro Se — which, in Latin, means “for himself.” A trial is scheduled to begin June 21, with a pretrial hearing set for May 18.

Thomson opened the hearing by asking Yohn if the relationship between himself and Citro — which began Nov. 18 when Citro replaced Todd Nelson as counsel for Yohn — was “irretrievably broken.”

Yohn said, “What’s been done has been done.” 

Thomson then asked Yohn if he believed Citro could effectively represent him. Yohn said no.

Thomson asked Citro if the relationship with Yohn was irretrievably broken. Citro replied, “After giving much consideration, I do believe that.”

Thomson then asked Yohn if he wanted different counsel appointed. 

“The public defender system has had time to prepare for this case,” Yohn replied. “I’m asking to go Pro Se unless I can get another public defender and we can immediately go to trial.”

Thomson said anyone assigned to defend Yohn needs time to interview witnesses and review discovery to present an effective defense, and “no one’s going to be able to do that in the span of a week.”

Thomson then excused Citro from the courtroom.

Thomson doesn’t let Yohn read letter

Thomson started to admonish Yohn, informing him of the charges, when Yohn interrupted. He wanted to read a letter explaining the ineffectiveness of Citro’s counsel.

“To be honest, there’s no reason for it, because the attorney has been discharged from representing it,” Thomson said. 

“So I don’t have the right to my appeal to discuss the reasons for this?” Yohn insisted. “Your honor, I was told during my last court date that I would have the option of letting the courts know the reasons. Now I am being told I cannot.”

“Because the reasons are irrelevant, because you’ve already gotten what you’ve asked for,” Thomson said. “Mr. Yohn, you will learn as counsel for yourself the court’s going to proceed as the court’s going to proceed, protecting your rights and ensuring a fair trial for you. But I’m not going to be interrupted, and I’m not going to listen to an argument after I’ve already ruled.”

Yohn charged with five Class X felonies

Thomson then read the charges against Yohn.

Yohn, 35, is charged with two counts of home invasion, and one count each of aggravated kidnapping (allegedly using a knife) and aggravated vehicular hijacking— all Class X felonies punishable for between six to 30 years in prison — for his involvement in a November incident in Adams County. He is charged with residential burglary, a Class 1 felony punishable for between four and 15 years in prison.

He is charged with aggravated criminal sexual assault for knowingly committing the act of sexual penetration through the use of force — a Class X felony punishable for between 16 and 40 years in prison.

Yohn faces four counts in connection with an incident on Oct. 15 at 828 1/2 York. He is charged with one count of residential burglary, a Class 1 felony punishable for between four and 15 years in prison; two counts of theft or unauthorized control of property over $500 but under $10,000, a Class 3 felony punishable for between two and 10 years in prison; and one count of criminal sexual abuse, a Class 4 felony punishable for between one and three years in prison.

When charged with criminal sexual abuse, Yohn said, ‘Ridiculous’

As Thomson admonished him, Yohn occasionally took notes. When Thomson read the counts related to the Oct. 15 incident, Yohn stopped him and asked, “Did you say criminal sexual abuse?” When Thomson told him yes, Yohn muttered, “Ridiculous,” then laughed and shook his head.

Yohn also looked at his father, seated in the back of the courtroom, several times during the hearing.

Thomson then read from a document he said he created Tuesday to prepare for the hearing, explaining the difficulties of preparing a defense and the importance of adhering to the technical rules governing conduct during a trial. 

“A defendant such as yourself, proceeding Pro Se, will not be allowed to complain on appeal about the competency of his representation,” Thomson said. “The effectiveness of your defense may well be diminished by your dual role as an attorney. The defendant will receive no special consideration from the court.”

Thomson then asked one last time, “Is it your desire to persist in representing yourself? Or do you wish to have an attorney appointed to represent you?”

“I wish to represent myself, your honor,” Yohn said. “I do not believe I will have the undivided attention from a public defender in this county.”

Yohn: ‘I do not feel safe in (Jones’) presence’

Yohn asked when he would receive a copy of discovery in the case. Thomson directed assistant state’s attorney Josh Jones to have it delivered to Yohn by Friday.

Jones said he would not provide copies of photographs that were “of a private nature” but would meet with Yohn to show them to him. Thomson set that date for Monday.

Yohn asked if the meeting with Jones could be in a surveillance room with audio and video recording. Thomson asked why.

“I’ve been assaulted by a correctional officer in here in January,” Yohn said. “I do not feel safe in this man’s presence. I was actually assaulted yesterday going back from court with a (corrections officer) maybe three inches from my shoulder who was there to protect me …. hit in my face by another inmate, and I have been refused since then to make a formal claim.”

Thomson did not grant Yohn’s wish.

“You’re going to have be contact with each other in preparation for this trial, like or not,” the judge said.

After the hearing ended and he was escorted from the courtroom by bailiffs Chad Downs and Donnie Hammer, Yohn said to his father, “Please get a hold of the Illinois Supreme Court.”

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