PEKIN — A Tazewell County judge complimented the Bartonville man before him in a case of car burglary, the latest in the man’s young lifetime of property felonies. The two had met over several of those cases. 

“You’ve always presented yourself well to me, very well,” Judge Stephen Kouri told Jonathan Rabe.

Kouri, however, had no patience Monday for the legal ploys Rabe, 32, of Bartonville, tried to put off the choice now before him, a trial and up to 14 years in prison if he lost, or a plea bargain with a likely lesser term.

Rabe’s past crimes, including burglary and stolen car possession, guaranteed prison if he was convicted again. 

He’s been free on bond since shortly after his arrest last July, when a Pekin police officer found him sitting in a car left unlocked in the 1900 block of Highwood Avenue. In Rabe’s hands was a pack of cigarettes he’d found in the vehicle.

Kouri on Monday twice denied his request for a new defense attorney — including one who said Rabe encountered him in the county Courthouse over the just-passed lunch hour — who would need time to prepare for trial.

“I have 32 people waiting in the hall” to be chosen for jury duty, Kouri told him. They had taken time from their lives to serve in a trial on “a case about a pack of cigarettes.

“We’re on the clock,” Kouri said.

Rabe, eyes shut and head bowed, listened as his attorney whispered details of a plea deal he’d discussed with the assistant state’s attorney. He turned with a look of resignation to his girlfriend in the courtroom, then nodded slightly to his lawyer.

Moments later, he pleaded guilty to his latest burglary, to be punished by at least three years but no more than eight — unless, Kouri said, Rabe is arrested again before he’s sentenced on Aug. 18.

Rabe has already served three prison terms issued in Peoria County cases. Kouri advised him to “tell me what steps you’ve taken to address any demons you have” that have driven him to trouble since his late teens. 

“I imagine at some point you’d be tired of being here” in court.

“Yes, your honor,” said Rabe.

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