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Probation in murder of man whose dog urinated on lawn

Charles Clements (inset) received probatifor gunning down dog owner after man's pet urinated his lawn.

Charles Clements (inset) received probation for gunning down a dog owner after the man's pet urinated on his lawn.

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A University Park grandfather placed on probation for gunning down a dog owner after the man’s puppy urinated on his prized lawn was “absolutely relieved” he won’t go to prison.

But relatives of Joshua Funches, who was shot to death during the May 9 confrontation, were outraged that Charles Clements will not serve time behind bars.

“This is certainly not justice,” Funches’ aunt Gail Williams said after Clements was sentenced to four years of probation Wednesday.

“This is very, very unfair and it is not justice at all,” Williams said.

Clements, 69, a Marine Corps veteran and retired truck driver, faced up to 20 years in prison when he was convicted of second-degree murder in October .

The Will County jury refused to convict Clements of a more serious charge of first-degree murder.

Before he was shot, Funches, 23, punched Clements while the men argued after Funches’ 3-month-old fox terrier urinated on Clements’ well-tended front yard.

On Wednesday, Judge Daniel J. Rozak opted not to impose a prison term, noting that Clements had no previous arrests or legal problems — not even traffic tickets — and took action only after he was hit by Funches.

“It was uncontroverted the defendant was physically provoked,” Rozak said, though the veteran jurist frankly acknowledged the circumstances of the case were unusual.

“I can’t ever recall a similar situation,” said Rozak, who has served as a judge for more than 30 years.

Clements didn’t speak after the sentencing, but his attorney, Daniel Collins, said he was “thankful” the judge opted not to send him to prison.

“He’s absolutely relieved and very thankful to the judge for his consideration,” Collins said.

“We believe the judge made the right decision,” he said.

Funches, a father of three young children, was walking his dog in the 500 block of Landau Road in the far south suburb when his pet wandered onto Clements’ yard.

Clements confronted Funches about the dog and at one point took a .45-caliber pistol out of his pocket.

But Clements didn’t fire the weapon until after Funches cursed at him, then punched him, according to testimony during his trial.

Clements told police he shot Funches once in the abdomen because he feared his younger neighbor would harm him.

Funches’ relatives scoffed at that explanation, instead questioning how Clements could avoid prison after shooting an unarmed man.

“It’s unbelievable to know that in this day and age you can follow a person down the street, pull a gun in broad daylight when children are on the street, kill a man, get charged with second-degree murder and walk out of a courtroom,” Williams said.

Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow said in a statement that he respected the judge’s ruling.

“After presiding over the trial and hearing all the facts and circumstances, the judge determined that probation was an appropriate sentence,” Glasgow said in the statement.

“He is an excellent judge and we respect his decision,” he said.

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