Thursday, August 9, 2012

Rob An Old Man? Go To Prison

Here's a report on another criminal goin' to the Graybar Hotel, from a court advocate:

"Today Michael Woods was sentenced for his assault and robbery of an elderly man who suffers from Alzheimer’s.

On an afternoon in July 2011, Mr. Woods was hanging out in front of Lawrence House [UU note:  The original story is here], waiting for his prescription to be filled at the Lawrence House Pharmacy, when a 71-year-old man got off the bus at Kenmore.  The man lives near Swedish Covenant Hospital, and was totally out of his element in Uptown, particularly since he suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease and had become confused.

As Assistant State’s Attorney Joy Repella said in her closing argument today, everyone else saw a man who needed help.  Mr. Woods, however, saw a mark.  He went up to the man and asked for money, and the man took out his wallet and gave him several dollars.  Mr. Woods took the money and then walked away.  He then returned a moment later and asked for more money.  This time when the man took out his wallet, Mr. Woods grabbed the wallet out of his hands, pushed him hard enough to make him fall to the ground, and called him a “dumb ass.”

There were several witnesses to the crime.  One witness, who was also waiting for a prescription to be filled, saw what happened and called 911 while he followed Mr. Woods down the sidewalk to Lawrence and Sheridan, staying on the phone with police to tell them Mr. Woods’ location.  The police dispatched a car.  By that point, Mr. Woods had returned to the Lawrence House Pharmacy to pick up his prescription.  The witness saw the victim still lying in the street on Kenmore.  He moved the victim onto the parkway and out of the street.

A couple were walking by and saw help was needed.  The female stayed with the victim until he could receive medical help.  The witness and the male from the couple went to the pharmacy and held the glass door closed while Mr. Woods was inside to keep him from escaping before the police arrived.

Mr. Woods was able to force his way out of the pharmacy, and the two men held him until police arrived and cuffed him.  Here’s a neat twist:  the witness who went to all the trouble to call 911, keep an eye on Mr. Woods, move the victim to safety, hold Mr. Woods in the pharmacy, and then hold him until the police arrived, is a former felon himself who is working hard to change his life for the better.  I think he is a true hero.  Who knows if Mr. Woods would have been caught if this man hadn’t gone to such lengths?  Praises for the couple who stopped their walk and became part of the story as well.

Several other witnesses called 911 and testified in court.  Mr. Woods was a surprise witness, much to his own public defender’s surprise, too!  He said he was simply helping the victim to get a cab and he didn’t push him, rob him or call him a “dumb ass.”  The victim himself was unable to testify due to his Alzheimer’s, which has greatly advanced in the year since the crime, and his general poor medical condition.

At the conclusion of the bench trial last month, Judge James Obbish found Mr. Woods guilty.  Sentencing was today.  It was revealed that Mr. Woods has in excess of 100 arrests, including felonies.  ASA Joy Repella pointed out that he received $700 a month in Social Security payments and that he received room and board from Heartland Alliance on Wilson.  All of his needs were provided for, and he robbed the victim simply for money for alcohol.

Mr. Woods admitted to drinking the day of the crime.  He has medical issues, including near blindness from being stabbed in the eyes in the 1980s.  He denied shoving the victim, saying it may have been due to his inability to see clearly.

Judge Obbish sentenced Mr. Woods to ten years in prison, minus time served, and three years probation after that.  Mr. Woods received $60 from the robbery.  That’s six bucks for every year of his sentence.

The 20th District court advocates have been following this case, and today were joined by court advocates from the 19th District.  Another great show of support and a good prosecution from Joy Repella of the North Side Community Justice Center."


  1. Awesome! Glad he is off the streets.

  2. Great story with a very good ending. I seldom read or hear about things like this happening in Uptown. It certainly is nice to read about it.

  3. Ten years is quite a lot for this given some of the more paltry sentences for other similar and often worse crimes in the neighborhood (though I'm guessing his long rap sheet may have helped). Nevertheless, I'm very supportive of any such (and strict) sentences to get and keep these people off the street. Kudos to the witness - setting quite an example!

  4. I'd love to know how much this worthless piece of garbage has cost me and my fellow taxpayers during the course of his life. Social Security, LINK cards, housing, prescriptions from Lawerence House pharmacy, medical care, police and court time, jail cells, hospitalizations for his knife fights... probably millions of dollars. Makes me sick.

    Thank you to the court advocate and the passersby who helped catch this guy. However, I'll bet we hear from Mr. Woods again in a few years when he is released early and immediately goes back to his violent, criminal life.

  5. People helping people, it's a beautiful thing!

  6. Anyone see another problem - Heartland Alliance bringing this scumbag with his criminal past into our neighborhood?

  7. I've lived in uptown for 2 years now, and I can't believe some of the things I see and hear. Almost everyday I'm asked for money or cigarettes by at least 3 people. I'm tired of young women like 25 years old walking into stores with 6 kids. I took a day off of work last week and saw the bums on the sidewalk of Lawrence sitting on boxes, chairs and the ground with their radio playing like it was their front yard.
    Cuddos to all who helped this gentleman but all the people who must have seen this man lieing on the street.

  8. The panhandling in Chicago is not only epidemic, it is pandemic. When I lived at the Lawrence House I could not go grocery shopping without somebody following me onto the elevator and asking for this, that and the other thing. God forbid if I ever ordered a Peapod truck, they would probably kill the driver, steal his truck and send it to a chopshop.
    The ones that irritate me the most are these "crust punk" kids.
    They have well-off, if not wealthy parents and they rebel against them by being homeless and living off the land.
    You can find oodles of them at this fantastic new "Panera Cares" concept over in Lakeview.
    The Lawrence House is a pit of evil and I have no sympathy for those who have remained all these years, they should have been saving up every penny and fleeing for their lives. It must be great to be a professional victim, all these nice people feel sorry for you, take you to silly protests and give you cheap, ugly t-shirts to advertise you are one of their acolytes.
    Nah, not for me!

  9. That is a wonderful family run pharmacy. They always call the police & don't allow vagrancy outside. 10 years is quite a long time. This Judge seems like he is a good one.

  10. In all the moral outrage against the multiple felon who received what he so richly deserved, we forgot about the one guy who followed through and made Woods' arrest possible.
    He was a felon, too. What crime he had committed in the past is of little consequence because he did what only two other people did - he did the right thing.
    I say we should probably heap more praise on the guy who screwed up in the past and did his best to overcome that. Just sayin'.

  11. Rob an old person? ROT IN HELL.