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01/20/87 the People of the State of v. Joseph Young

January 20, 1987





504 N.E.2d 115, 152 Ill. App. 3d 361, 105 Ill. Dec. 246 1987.IL.36

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. George M. Marovich, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE BUCKLEY delivered the opinion of the court. CAMPBELL, J., concurs. PRESIDING JUSTICE QUINLAN, Dissenting.


In December 1981, defendant Joseph Young appealed his convictions and sentence for murder and armed robbery to this court. Thereafter, in an order pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 23 (87 Ill. 2d R. 23), this court affirmed the convictions, but remanded the case to the trial court for reconsideration of the sentence. On remand, the trial court reimposed the same sentence: a term of natural-life imprisonment on the murder conviction and a concurrent term of 60 years on the armed-robbery conviction. Defendant again appeals, arguing: (1) the trial court's refusal to consider evidence of his activities since his first sentencing hearing violated his constitutional and statutory rights; (2) his sentence should be reduced by this court in light of his rehabilitative potential; (3) the imposition of an extended-term sentence for armed robbery violated the Uniform Code of Corrections (the Code); and (4) if this court remands the case for a new sentencing hearing, it should be remanded to a different Judge.

The record shows that following a bench trial, defendant was convicted of the strangulation murder of a 63-year-old woman who was the mother of defendant's former stepmother. Defendant's written confession had been admitted into evidence at trial. In his confession, defendant stated that he left his house, taking with him an electrical extension cord, and went to the victim's house intending to strangle her. He was invited into the home by the victim, ate lunch with her, and then walked up behind the victim and strangled her by putting the electrical cord around her neck and holding it there for five minutes. Defendant's statement was corroborated by physical evidence and testimony of his friend who helped him remove items from the victim's apartment the day following the murder.

The record also shows that in 1977, prior to the instant offense, defendant had been adJudged delinquent and placed on nine months' juvenile probation for the aggravated battery of a mentally handicapped female. The victim in that case was stabbed with a butcher knife and suffered more than 50 lacerations to her head and hand. She ultimately lost the use of two fingers as a result of the attack. Defendant was 16 years old at the time of the stabbing. Thereafter, in 1980, defendant was convicted of residential burglary and placed on two years' felony probation. Defendant was released on probation for the burglary when he committed the present murder.

In our prior Rule 23 order affirming defendant's murder conviction, this court reviewed defendant's criminal history and found that defendant "has very little, if any, potential for rehabilitation." We nevertheless remanded the cause for reconsideration of defendant's sentence in view of the defendant's youth and the fact that the sentence carried no possibility of parole. See Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 1003-6-3(a)(2).

On remand, at the hearing to reconsider the sentence, defendant filed a written motion urging the court to consider evidence of his behavior subsequent to the initial sentencing hearing. The trial court denied the motion, but allowed defendant to introduce evidence of his good prison conduct and rehabilitative potential in order to make a record for this appeal.

At the hearing, Donald Wasson, a Pontiac Correctional Center educator who had taught defendant English and social studies at the institution, described defendant as an "excellent student." He testified that defendant had become quite interested in religion and that he believed defendant could be rehabilitated. Wasson, however, admitted he had not been aware of defendant's aggravated battery of a mentally handicapped girl.

Defendant also called as a witness William Singleton, superintendent of industry at Pontiac Correctional Center. Singleton testified that defendant had been working in the prison's sheet metal plant for approximately eight months. He stated that he would hire defendant for his own business, if he had one, outside of prison. Singleton also admitted, however, that he did not know the details of defendant's prior stabbing.

Marla Sims, the mother of defendant's three-year-old daughter, testified that defendant sends home $20 every two months for their daughter's support. He also writes letters, and she visits him at the prison. Marla Sims' mother, Lois Sims, testified she keeps in contact with defendant and spoke of his increased interest in religion.

To complete his offer of proof, defendant introduced four letters from the prison staff and six letters from teachers. The letters indicated that defendant has adapted well to prison life and has behaved in a polite and courteous manner.

After hearing arguments, the trial Judge stated that he knew defendant was 20 years old at the time of the sentencing and had considered that fact when he initially sentenced him. The Judge further stated that he had considered defendant's history and background, noting that defendant had a history of "preying" on the elderly and infirm, and that his crimes were escalating in nature. The court reviewed the details of defendant's murder of a "63-year-old woman who considered him [defendant] and treated him as her grandson," and observed:

"This, to me, indicates somebody who has a history of violence. It indicates to me somebody who has a propensity to reap that violence on the weak and the aged and the affirm [ sic ], and it is one who has not accepted any ...

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