Appeal from Circuit Court of Macon County No. 96CF433 Honorable Jerry L. Patton, judge Presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Steigmann delivered the opinion of the court:
In June 1996, the State charged defendant, Ian E. Pitts, with two separate counts of attempt (first degree murder) (720 ILCS 5/8-4(a) (West 1994); 9-1(a)(1); (West Supp. 1995)), two separate counts of armed violence (720 ILCS 5/33A-2 (West 1994)), armed robbery (720 ILCS 5/18-2(a) (West 1994)), aggravated vehicular hijacking (720 ILCS 5/18-4(a)(3) (West 1994)), and burglary (720 ILCS 5/19-1(a) (West 1994)). In August 1996, defendant pleaded guilty to both attempt (first degree murder) counts and armed robbery, pursuant to the State's agreement to dismiss the remaining charges. The parties had no agreement regarding the sen-tence the trial court would impose.
In October 1996, the trial court sentenced defendant to 15 years in prison on each attempt (first degree murder) conviction and six years in prison on the armed robbery conviction, with all sentences to be served consecutively.
At the Conclusion of the sentencing hearing, the trial court stated its agreement with the prosecutor that defendant would have to serve 85% of his prison sentences as a result of the then-recently enacted "truth-in-sentencing" statute (730 ILCS 5/3-6-3(a)(2)(ii) (West Supp. 1995)), which modified section 3-6-3 of the Unified Code of Corrections (Code) (730 ILCS 5/3-6-3(a)(2) (West 1994)) to limit good conduct credit to no more than 4.5 days per month for a prisoner serving a sentence of attempt (first degree murder).
Defendant appeals, arguing that (1) his aggregate 36- year prison sentence was excessive and constitutes an abuse of the trial court's discretion; and (2) Public Act 89-404 (Pub. Act 89-404, §40, eff. August 20, 1995 (1995 Ill. Laws 4306, 4323-27)), which created the "truth-in-sentencing" statute, is unconstitutional because (a) it violates the single subject rule of the Illinois Constitution (Ill. Const. 1970, art. IV, §8(d)), and (b) it violates the equal protection clauses of the United States and Illinois Constitutions (U.S. Const., amend. XIV; Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, §2). We reject defendant's first argument but agree that the "truth-in-sentencing" statute violates the single subject rule of the Illinois Constitution. Accordingly, we affirm and remand with directions.
When defendant pleaded guilty in August 1996, the trial court adopted the factual basis previously presented at co-defendant Jody Rinderer's guilty plea hearing. The parties also stipulated that Amanda Jones, another codefendant, would testify that the three male codefendants (defendant, Rinderer, and Jason Gaddis) agreed ahead of time that they were going to kill Victoria Bridgeman and steal her car. After the attack, defendant admitted that he had stabbed Bridgeman.
At the sentencing hearing, the trial court received evidence from both parties, including a personality inventory regarding defendant and a presentence report prepared by the probation department. The court also heard arguments and suggestions of counsel.
Information before the trial court at the sentencing hearing revealed the following. Bridgeman met defendant through a friend's neighbor and had known him for approximately two years. Defendant subsequently introduced her to Gaddis and Rinderer. On the evening of April 23, 1996, Bridgeman, defendant, Gaddis, and Rinderer were together in Bridgeman's car, which was parked "in the country." Bridgeman was seated in the driver's seat, Gaddis was in the front passenger seat, and defendant and Rinderer were in the back. Bridgeman testified that Rinderer "had been acting like a creep all night," telling her that she needed to respect him. After Bridgeman disagreed with him, the three codefendants left the vehicle ostensibly to use the bathroom.
Upon returning three to five minutes later, each of them took a new position in the car, with defendant seated beside Bridgeman and Gaddis behind her. Bridgeman and Rinderer continued arguing, and Bridgeman turned to "get input" from Gaddis. At that point, Gaddis put a cord around her neck and began strangling her. Defendant then turned toward Bridgeman, kneeling on the front seat, and began punching her in the face. Bridgeman described that initial portion of the attack as follows:
"I was trying to get a hold of . They were all yelling, and I had my -- my right hand underneath the cord trying to pull it away from my neck, and just kept hitting me and hitting me. They kept yelling 'Get her.'"
Bridgeman lost consciousness. When Bridgeman awakened, her three assailants stood her up beside her car, and defendant hit her in the head with a whiskey bottle. They then began kicking her, yelling "Die bitch." Bridgeman once again lost consciousness; when Bridgeman reawakened, her assailants were trying to drag her into a ditch. She tried to fight them off and "was stabbed a few times." Once in the ditch, they kicked her and continued to yell "Die bitch." Bridgeman estimated that her three assailants yelled "Die bitch" at least 100 times during the attack. Bridgeman began pleading for her life, telling them to leave her to "die in peace." At that point, someone kicked her again, and they drove away in her car.
Bridgeman then stood up and tried "to head to safety." She stated that she had not gotten far when she saw the car turn around. She fell back to the ground on her stomach and heard them get out of her car. (By this time, her eyes were swollen shut.) One of the three walked up to her and felt for a pulse. She then heard someone say, "She isn't dead. Finish her off." After defendant and Gaddis prodded Rinderer to slash her throat, Rinderer did so. In an attempt to get them "to leave when I was dying," Bridgeman grabbed her throat and acted like she was choking on her own blood. At that point, her three assailants returned to her car, turned up the stereo, and left. After once again losing and regaining consciousness, Bridgeman walked to find help.
As a result of the attack (during which she was stabbed at least 23 times), Bridgeman was hospitalized for one week, and accumulated medical bills totaling $50,000. She has several scars, including "a very big indentation" on her head, one on her left eye, one across the bridge of her nose, one on her right cheek and across her nose to her left cheek, "a very big slash" on the right side of her throat, and others "all over" her upper torso, including several scars on her breasts. Bridgeman described the impact of the attack on her life, as follows:
"I don't trust anybody. I used to trust absolutely everybody. Apparently not anymore. I am scared to go to my car. I am scared to be in the car. I cannot have anybody sitting in the backseat for fear what could happen if they do. And I can only be pretty much in well-lit areas with somebody like my sister and my mother."
Louis Pitts, defendant's father, testified on his behalf that defendant had psychiatric problems growing up and had previously been hospitalized and medicated for his "outburst disorder." Defendant stopped taking his medications because they caused side effects and were expensive, and he "seemed to be doing pretty good."
The presentence report indicated that defendant, who was 16 years old at the time of the offense, was a member of a street gang, uses alcohol daily and drugs on a regular basis, sells drugs, and has an "explosive disorder" that causes him to become violent when angry. In September 1993, the trial court adjudicated him delinquent for committing theft. Defendant subsequently violated court supervision by committing the offenses of aggravated battery and battery. He was then sentenced to probation, and after he violated several probation conditions, the court ordered his probation terminated as unsuccessful. In May 1995, defendant was again adjudicated delinquent for committing the offenses of battery and resisting a ...