Brothers arrested part of CU Fresh Start

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URBANA — Two brothers, who were arrested after a shooting Tuesday, made their first court appearance Wednesday.

Eric Kirk, 21, faces charges of being an armed habitual criminal. In court, Eric spoke to the judge and asked to have a speedy trial.

Darius Kirk, 30, is accused of unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon.

They were both part of the C-U Fresh Start call in last month. It’s a second chance program for people on parole or probation to encourage them to stop the violence.

Project leaders say they’re not necessarily surprised. Tracy Parsons, community coalition facilitator, says they expected about a 30% success rate.

Darius and Eric were arrested after shots were fired near the 200-block of Grove Street. Two people were hurt, but should be okay.

Officers say they found two loaded handguns on the roof outside the window to the bedroom the brothers used. Both are on parole with what State’s Attorney Julia Rietz calls “significant criminal histories.”

She says she’s not surprised this happened, but they plan to keep moving forward. 

“It’s a good thing that a number of the individuals signed up, but we’re talking about a long-term solution here and we have to give it time to see where we go with it,” said Rietz.

The brothers were two of nine people who were invited to be part of the C-U Fresh Start program last month. At least one of the brothers agreed to put his guns down.

Program leaders wouldn’t confirm who did, because they say it’s confidential. The Kirks are the first ones arrested since then. 

Rietz says they’ll prosecute the Kirks as they would any other case. They will have separate defense attorneys. Darius faces up to 14 years behind bars; his older brother, Eric, could get up to 60. 

When previously learning about program in the past, it’s known those taking part will face serious consequences if they break their word.

Wednesday, Parsons says it’s an optional program and no one is required to be part of it. He says if people get arrested, they are just in the court system instead.

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