More than seven months ago, a man stole a woman’s wedding ring at gunpoint at the University Heights apartments.
Now that Demond Hunt, 22, of Matteson, has been convicted of the robbery, it’s the DeKalb County Circuit Court that refuses to return it to her.
DeKalb County Associate Judge John McAdams should rethink the decision and give the woman her property back.
At a hearing Tuesday in DeKalb County court, prosecutors asked permission to take a photograph of the ring to keep in evidence so that they could return the actual ring to the victim. McAdams declined, saying that it was more important for the justice system to keep the ring in evidence until Hunt has exhausted his appeals.
“The safest route is to keep it in evidence,” McAdams said. “It favors the state to keep it in evidence.”
It’s impossible to say how long that might take, however. And there are clearly alternatives to having a crime victim continue to be deprived of her property.
The ring is so important because it was not found in an initial search of Hunt’s pants pockets when he was first arrested, and was only discovered in a later search at the DeKalb County Jail.
Prosecutors said it was because the ring was small enough to escape notice; Hunt’s defense suggested that maybe the ring was planted on Hunt.
The fact that he used a gun means Hunt faces 21 to 75 years in prison for the crime.
There’s no disputing the seriousness of the matter. But the state of Illinois should not need to keep a woman’s wedding ring filed away in a box somewhere to show any future judge or jury how small it is. Photograph it next to a ruler, someone’s fingertip, or hold it up with a pair of tweezers.
It’s not a novel concept – photographs are commonly used as evidence at trials. People will be able to understand that the ring is small without holding it in their hand or trying it on their fingers.
A wedding ring is an object of sentimental value, and it appears there are alternatives to keeping it from its rightful owner.
Take a few pictures and give it back.