A jury deliberated for two hours Friday afternoon before finding a Flossmoor man guilty of predatory criminal sexual assault and aggravated kidnapping of a 6-year-old girl in 2013.
Christopher Young, 56, sat motionless in a gold sweater and slacks with his hands clasped and eyebrows raised as Judge Geraldine D’Souza read out the verdict.
Young’s attorney, Tony Thedford, argued this was a case of misidentification, saying Young did not match the original description the girl provided, and her picking him from a photo lineup six years later was flawed.
The girl, now 16, testified she was sleeping on a mattress in her living room Dec. 28, 2013, when she was taken by an man she hadn’t seen before. She recalled being driven in a car to a house she had never been in.
Prosecutors say Young took the girl from her home in Homewood, brought her to his home in Flossmoor, sexually assaulted her in his bed and then carried her to the stoop of Flossmoor resident Brian Gabel, who found her just before 2 a.m., barefoot and in pajamas.
It wasn’t until 2019 when DNA evidence from the girl’s clothing and body was matched to Young, leading to the charges against him.
Assistant State’s Attorney Sara Ondera highlighted testimony from a forensics expert that the DNA profile that matched Young would be expected to occur in no more than one in one quintillion people. With only eight billion people on earth, the odds of the DNA evidence being a match for another person is very slim, Ondera argued.
But Thedford pointed that in December 2013, the girl described the man as Black, with blue eyes and bald. While his client is Black, Thedford noted Young does not have blue eyes and there is no evidence he was bald at the time. In court this week, Young had a full head of hair.
“The state wants the jury to think that the 6-year-old girl was a reliable witness for some of the things but other things she didn’t remember because she was just 6 years old,” Thedford said.
Testimony showed when the girl was 12 and presented with a photo lineup including Young’s photo and that of five other Black men, she selected Young’s photo. But Thedford argued the photos were not similar to one another, with at least three of the images appearing to be of men substantially older than Young.
Prosecutors noted the girl’s statements in the hours after she was kidnapped and assaulted included details about parts of the house where she was taken, which they said accurately match Young’s home at the time. She also said she was carried over train tracks before she was dropped off at the Flossmoor home, and there were railroad tracks between the two homes.
Ondera said Thedford’s arguments distract from both the DNA evidence and the proximity of the defendant’s home to the crime.
“He doesn’t want you to think about the evidence that was presented, ladies and gentlemen, because it buries him,” Ondera said.
The case now moves to the sentencing stage, with the next court date March 19 at the Cook County courthouse in Markham.