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04/14/88 the People of the State of v. Jack Langston

April 14, 1988

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE

v.

JACK LANGSTON, JR., DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIFTH DISTRICT

522 N.E.2d 304, 167 Ill. App. 3d 854, 118 Ill. Dec. 849 1988.IL.538

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Marion County; the Hon. William D. Kelly, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE CALVO delivered the opinion of the court. HARRISON, P.J., and LEWIS, J., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE CALVO

On January 9, 1986, a petition for adjudication of wardship was filed in the circuit court of Marion County alleging that defendant, Jack Langston, Jr., committed the offense of attempted murder. After a hearing was conducted pursuant to section 2-7(3) of the Juvenile Court Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 37, par. 702-7(3)), the circuit court allowed the State to prosecute the defendant for this offense under the Criminal Code of 1961. At a subsequent stipulated bench trial, defendant was found guilty as charged. Defendant was thereafter sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment. The facts are as follows.

On January 7, 1986, at about 4:50 p.m. defendant's mother, Dorothy Littrell, entered the family home and walked toward defendant's bedroom. As she passed the bathroom she heard a gunshot and felt a pain in her right shoulder. Defendant appeared in the bathroom doorway, grinning. Mrs. Littrell fled to her bedroom and closed the door. She heard gunshots while en route to her bedroom and while in her bedroom. Defendant entered her bedroom with a rifle in his hands. Mrs. Littrell grabbed the barrel of the gun, causing defendant to let go. She then walked to a neighbor's house across the street, crying "[Help] me, help me, my son Junior shot me."

On January 8, 1986, defendant, after being advised of his Miranda rights, agreed to give a statement to the police. In this statement, defendant, a 16-year-old high school sophomore enrolled in the special education program, revealed that he had contemplated killing his mother and stepfather for quite some time because they disciplined him unfairly. About one week before the shooting, he obtained ammunition which his stepfather had left in the yard and hid it in his room. On the day of the shooting he decided to kill his mother and stepfather, stuff their bodies into garbage bags, and bury them in the woods. In preparation, defendant loaded his stepfather's rifle with 10 bullets and took two trash bags and tape with him to the bathroom, where he sat on a chair with the rifle and waited for his mother. When he saw her, he tried to shoot her in the head. A subsequent search of the house revealed two trash bags inside the bathroom and six empty shell casings inside the house.

On January 15, 1986, the State filed a motion to permit prosecution under the criminal laws pursuant to section 2-7(3) of the Juvenile Court Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 37, par. 702-7(3)). On January 23, 1986, a hearing was held on this motion at which Centralia Police Officer Jerry Edmonson and Ron Littrell, the defendant's step-father, testified. Edmonson testified to the circumstances of the offense as related to him by the witnesses. Mr. Littrell testified that during the two years he had lived with defendant and defendant's mother he thought he and defendant had gotten along "fairly well," even though Mr. Littrell spanked defendant on occasion for misbehavior. Mr. Littrell further testified that defendant's only prior contact with the police was in September 1985 when defendant and another boy stole a stereo from a neighbor's house. According to Mr. Littrell, defendant was still "grounded" for this misbehavior at the time of the shooting. Mr. Littrell stated that defendant would not be allowed to stay in the family home again and that defendant's incarceration is necessary to protect the public and the family from further violence. It was also established at this hearing that defendant's natural father was serving a 15-year prison term for attempted murder.

Without benefit of a social history investigation, a psychiatric evaluation, or testimony as to the existence of treatment or rehabilitative facilities, the trial court ruled that defendant should stand trial as an adult. At the subsequently held bench trial, both sides agreed that the evidence would include the testimony of Mrs. Littrell, the neighbors who saw Mrs. Littrell after the shooting, and the police officers who investigated the shooting and took defendant's statement. On the basis of this evidence, the trial court found defendant guilty as charged.

On appeal defendant contends: (1) that the trial court erred in failing to order a social and psychiatric investigation of defendant prior to ruling that defendant could stand trial as an adult; (2) that the trial court considered improper criteria in ruling that defendant could stand trial as an adult; and (3) alternatively, that the defendant's sentence is excessive.

Section 2 -- 7(3) of the Juvenile Court Act provides in pertinent part:

"If a petition alleges commission by a minor 13 years of age or over of an act which constitutes a crime under the laws of this State, and, on motion of the State's Attorney, a Juvenile Judge . . . after investigation and hearing but before commencement of the adjudicatory hearing, finds that it is not in the best interests of the minor or of the public to proceed under this Act, the court may enter an order permitting prosecution under the criminal laws.

(a) In making its determination on a motion to permit prosecution under the criminal laws, the court shall consider among other matters: (1) whether there is sufficient evidence upon which a grand jury may be expected to return an indictment; (2) whether there is evidence that the alleged offense was committed in an aggressive and premeditated manner; (3) the age of the minor; (4) the previous history of the minor; (5) whether there are facilities particularly available to the Juvenile Court for the treatment and rehabilitation of the minor; and (6) whether the best interest of the minor and the security of the public ...


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