Yohn says he’s ‘unprepared’ after judge denies motion for continuance; more motions to be heard July 7

Yohn 06302023

Bradley Yohn gestures at Judge Roger Thomson during Friday morning's pre-trial hearing in Adams County Circuit Court. In the background is Adams County Bailiff Steve Traubitz. | David Adam

QUINCY — Bradley Yohn said he was being “railroaded” into being prepared for trial on July 10 after Judge Roger Thomson denied his motion for a continuance on Friday.

Yohn, 36, appeared in Adams County Circuit Court to defend himself pro se for a pre-trial hearing. Public Defender Todd Nelson, serving as standby counsel for Yohn, was not in attendance.

Yohn is charged with home invasion, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated vehicular hijacking and aggravated criminal sexual assault with a weapon — all Class X felonies. He allegedly committed the crimes on Nov. 9, 2021, at the home of Christine “Tina” Lohman Schmitt. Yohn could be sentenced to serve between six and 30 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections if he’s found guilty of any Class X felony.

Thomson denied Yohn’s motion for his case to be continued during a June 16 motion hearing. However, Yohn filed yet another motion on Tuesday to “reconsider prior motion to continue.” 

Sporting a shaved head and minus the beard he’s had since his arrest, Yohn opened Friday’s hearing by calling his case “extremely complex.” He said he should be held to the same standards as any attorney, “including being given the decency as any attorney.” He said he’s shown due diligence in trying to obtain DNA and fingerprint experts. Thomson granted a motion on Dec. 14 allowing Yohn to spend up to $3,000 on the DNA review and up to $1,000 for the fingerprint analysis.

“There’s a lot of stuff in this discovery to go over, a lot of formulating and defense,” Yohn said. “The way I’ve been treated in this county jail shall not have any effect on the way my trial is proceeding. However, it does. The jail has pretty much literally held me back from doing the things I need to do.”

Yohn said other people in the Adams County Jail have had “upwards of 30-plus continuances.”

“This is not a dilatory technique,” Yohn said. “It’s simply a need. The defendant shall be forced into the trial, unprepared. … It’s not as if I want to go for a continuance. I have to. If not, justice will not be served.”

Assistant State’s Attorney Josh Jones told Thomson he’s ready for trial and “has been waiting for trial for over a year at this point.”

Thomson said he reviewed a case Yohn cited in his motion, People v. Jefferson, from 1976. He also looked at past decisions made in the case, as well as other cases and the state statute regarding motions to continue criminal cases. He also noted it has been 570 days since Yohn was arraigned on Nov. 30, 2021.

He said Yohn’s reference to People v. Jefferson was “not on point.” He said the defendant in that case was arraigned, a public defender was appointed and a trial was set on the first day. Thomson said the public defender objected, and the trial started the following day.

“Clearly, there’s a difference between a one-day delay and a 570-day delay,” Thomson said.

Bradley Yohn is surrounded by bailiffs during his pre-trial hearing Friday morning in Adams County Circuit Court. | David Adam

Thomson also said Friday’s motion is the sixth made by Yohn to continue the case. He allowed the first four but denied the June 16 motion and, eventually, Friday’s motion.

“You were informed back on April 12, 2023, when there was a motion to continue (before) a pre-trial, and you answered that you would be ready for the jury trial,” Thomson said. “I had suggested August, and you objected, saying no, you wanted it sooner. So it was moved to July. … Any preparation you needed to do for the July 10th jury trial should have already been done.”

After denying the motion, Thomson said jury selection will begin July 10. 

“I can’t force experts to reply on their time,” Yohn said.

“The motion is decided, Mr. Yohn,” Thomson said.

“Well, then give me a lawyer,” Yohn replied.

“I told you when you asked for that last time that we would not be going through that cycle again, sir,” Thomson said.

“I’ve only opted out for a lawyer … never,” Yohn said.

That statement contradicts what happened on June 21, 2022. Moments before jury selection was to begin in this trial, Yohn told Thomson, “I can’t do this.” Thomson eventually assigned Nelson to defend Yohn. However, Yohn eventually was granted his wish to defend himself again during a Sept. 7, 2022, hearing.

Thomson denied Yohn’s request for appointment of counsel.

“You can’t. I have that right, your honor,” Yohn said.

“You waived that right when you went pro se,” Thomson replied.

“You want to force me into trial unprepared. I can’t do that, your honor,” Yohn said.

“That’s the choice when you went pro se,” Thomson said.

“That’s railroading, your honor,” Yohn said.

Thomson asked Yohn if he had a witness list or jury instructions to file.

“I’m simply defied by these people here,” Yohn said. “I haven’t even been able to enter my phone. I haven’t gotten the rest of the transcripts. I have asked you to be fair and impartial. I’ve not been out of line. You’ve not been fair and impartial, your honor.”

“The question is: Do you have a witness list or jury instructions?” Thomson repeated.

“No, I do not. I’m not prepared for that stage yet,” Yohn said. “I’m not prepared for anything else.”

Jones said he anticipated a jury to be selected July 10 and opening statements to be heard July 11. 

“I object to it all,” Yohn said. “I can’t be prepared. I’m not even to that stage.”

“I suggest you be prepared for July 10, because we’ll be picking a jury and starting this case,” Thomson said.

Yohn said he was still waiting for a charging cord to be delivered to the Adams County Jail so he could review his cellphone for evidence. Yohn said he was denied use of his computer from June 23-27 because it couldn’t be found.

“It’s mysteriously odd that things I need are just mysteriously coming up missing, right when I’m being told I have to go to trial,” Yohn said.

Thomson said he would order for his computer to be made available so he could prepare for trial.

“What about the days I missed?” Yohn said.

“There’s nothing about the days you missed, other than 570 days have passed,” Thomson said. “If you wait until the last minute to prepare, and it comes down to crunch time, you’re going to have to do the best you can between now and July 10.

Yohn then complained he recently tried to order “mailing utensils” a week and a half ago and instead was brought a single barbecue sauce packet.

At the end of the hearing, Yohn passed along four more motions, which Thomson said he would hear July 7. The motion for a change of venue was 548 pages. The others were to preserve evidence for an appeal, to discharge the case because of a violation of Yohn’s right to a speedy trial, and to receive signature receipts for discovery.

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