April 12, 2024

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Man caught with gun in Decatur traffic stop faces long prison sentence, judge warns | Public Safety

DECATUR — Tyler M. Blackburn, a felon prosecutors say was caught in Decatur with a handgun he said he carried for his own defense, was warned Monday he faces more than 30 years in prison if convicted.

Blackburn was arraigned in Macon County Circuit Court on Monday on charges of armed violence, a Class X felony, and the unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon.

Judge Rodney Forbes said the Class X felony carried a sentencing range of 15-30 years upon conviction; the unlawful possession charge had a sentencing range of 3-14 years.

The judge agreed to appoint a public defender to represent Blackburn, but the 28-year-old man, who lists a home address in Clinton, Indiana, said he had hopes of hiring a private attorney after tax filing season.

“I believe that, eventually, when some of my people get their tax returns, I will get to hire an attorney,” he told Forbes.

Blackburn, who has yet to formally enter a plea, will be back in court for a preliminary hearing Feb. 16, when Forbes will weigh the evidence and see if there is probable cause to try him.

A sworn affidavit from Decatur police said the defendant was arrested Jan. 29 after a traffic stop on a vehicle in which he was the rear seat passenger. A police dog alerted to the presence of drugs and police said they found a gram of meth in Blackburn’s pants pocket.

The affidavit said the loaded Smith & Wesson handgun was found hidden underneath the front passenger seat.

“Tyler acknowledged he was not allowed to possess the handgun due to being a convicted felon, but stated he carried it with him for protection,” the affidavit said.

Police said a check of criminal records showed Blackburn had previous convictions out of Indiana for battery involving serious bodily harm and residential burglary. And at the time of his arrest in Decatur he also had an outstanding warrant from Edgar County in Illinois for criminal trespass to a house.

Blackburn remains held in the Macon County Jail with bail set at $210,000, which means he must post a bond of $21,000 to be released.

Contact Tony Reid at (217) 421-7977. Follow him on Twitter: @TonyJReid