BLOOMINGTON - A Bellflower man was convicted Thursday night of the attempted aggravated criminal sexual abuse last summer of a girl under 10 years old.
The jury deliberated about 2 1/2 hours before returning its verdict of guilty on all counts against Fred Britz, 40. He was charged with residential burglary, attempted aggravated criminal sexual assault, attempted predatory criminal sexual assault, criminal trespass and unlawful restraint.
After the jury decision, Assistant State's Attorney Michelle Brooks expressed her gratitude to the child and the child's family for their role in securing the conviction.
"I'm grateful for the patience and cooperation of the family through all of the process. I'm pleased that they were able to see the big picture and help us take a dangerous person off the streets," said Brooks.
Britz sobbed after the verdicts were read.
In closing arguments, Brooks said the victim is not mistaken in her identification of Britz.
The child "never wavered in her stories. This did happen. This was not a dream," Brooks told the panel of six women and six men.
Defense attorney Brian McEldowney asked the jury to consider that the child had been sleeping when a man climbed into her bedroom room and climbed on top of her.
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"I think there was a misidentification," said Britz's lawyer.
McEldowney said fingerprints collected at the scene did not match Britz's. Hairs found on the child's bed also did not match DNA samples collected from Britz, he said.
During two days of testimony, the state presented eight witnesses, including the girl and her parents. The child identified the defendant as the man who climbed through her bedroom window Aug. 3 and put his hand over her mouth before she was able to escape.
Britz shook his head and cried Thursday as the jury viewed a videotape of an interview of the child conducted by the Children's Advocacy Center.
The child's mother testified Wednesday that her family was friends with Britz and his estranged wife before the incident. She said she did not want to believe her daughter's initial hysterical allegations that Britz had come into her room during the night.
An examination of the child's bedroom and the window leading to it produced concerns for the parents who called the police several hours later.
The child's father testified that he found two holes in the window screen, and a picture made by his daughter was on the ground outside the window. A shelving unit that rests on top of a dresser in front of the child's bedroom window had been moved, he said.
Letter of apology denied
On the witness stand Thursday, Britz denied that he wrote a letter of apology to the child's family while an inmate in the McLean County jail. The state contends Britz signed the letter while consulting with another inmate known for assisting other prisoners with legal issues.
Britz testified that inmate Anthony Fletcher may have written the letter of apology that contained incriminating statements and tricked Britz into signing it as part of legal paperwork requesting a new attorney. Britz said he agreed to provide Fletcher with $25 in credit for the jail commissary in return for the legal work.
"I would never have written that letter of apology. I have been fighting this case for eight months," said Britz.
The two inmates later were involved in a physical fight over the transaction, he testified.
Britz admitted a problem with drug and alcohol abuse but denied using crack cocaine the night of the break-in.
The Bellflower man said he dropped off his estranged wife after an evening of drinking in Champaign and drove to Saybrook, where he parked on the road and went to sleep before returning to his mother's home in Bellflower.