The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Buckley
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County.
The Honorable John E. Morissey, Judge Presiding.
the opinion of the court:
Defendant, Norberto Villa, entered a guilty plea to a 21-count indictment charging him with the offenses of aggravated criminal sexual assault, home invasion, criminal sexual assault, residential burglary, aggravated unlawful restraint, and unlawful restraint. Judgment was entered on one count of aggravated criminal sexual assault and one count of home invasion. Defendant was sentenced to consecutive terms of 30 years and 8 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. Defendant now appeals and raises the following issues: (1) whether the trial court erred in imposing consecutive sentences for aggravated criminal sexual assault and home invasion; and (2) whether the trial court abused its discretion in imposing the maximum sentence for aggravated criminal sexual assault. We affirm.
Before defendant pled guilty to the 21-count indictment, the trial court advised him that there had been no agreement as to any sentencing recommendations. The trial court also admonished defendant of the minimum and maximum sentences he could receive under Illinois law and that his sentences would be consecutive. Upon hearing such information, defendant indicated that he understood the charges and pled guilty to the indictment.
The factual basis for the guilty plea presented to the court is as follows: On June 21, 1995, complainant, a 26-year-old female, was alone in her apartment waiting for a friend. She lived on the second floor of a three flat in Chicago. She heard a noise coming from the door that leads from the kitchen to the back porch. She went to the door to investigate and defendant walked inside. Defendant told her he was there to see a friend. She told him he had the wrong apartment and asked him to leave. Defendant then asked her if she would like to see his penis. She began to scream and tried to push defendant out of her apartment. Defendant began beating her about the face and dragged her into the bedroom. Defendant told her he had a gun and that he would kill her. He continued beating her and threw her on the bed.
Defendant then picked up an electrical iron and wrapped the cord from the iron twice around complainant's neck. Complainant put her hand between the cord and her neck and begged defendant not to hurt her. Defendant wrapped the cord a third time around complainant's neck. Defendant removed his clothing and removed complainant's underpants. He put his body on top of complainant and inserted his penis into her vagina.
After raping complainant, defendant fled from the apartment. He was seen by numerous Chicago police officers. The officers called out for defendant to stop but he continued running. The officers chased defendant for approximately three blocks, apprehended him and brought him back to the scene, where he was identified by complainant.
Complainant was taken to Illinois Masonic Hospital, where she was treated for numerous injuries, including bruises below the right eye, a bruise on her left check, a large bruise above her left breast, and four superficial abrasions to her vaginal area that were indicative of forced penetration. Complainant also had abrasions on her left knee and ligature marks on her neck.
After being arrested and read his rights, defendant made a statement to a detective. Defendant stated that he had placed complainant under surveillance from the rooftop across the street. While on the rooftop, defendant paced back and forth and masturbated. He admitted that he went to complainant's apartment, opened the screen door and went inside. The remainder of defendant's account of the attack and rape was substantially similar to complainant's account laid out above.
At the sentencing hearing, defendant submitted 26 letters written on his behalf by friends and family members. Defendant also called three witnesses to testify on his behalf.
Enrique Bahena testified that he has known defendant for 10 years and that defendant was hard-working, honest, peaceful, and friendly. He stated that defendant was a responsible father to his children. Bahena also testified that, on the night of the incident, he had been out until 7:30 p.m. drinking with defendant.
Guille Avila testified that she has known defendant for the past four to five years and has seen defendant three or five times during that period. Avila stated that defendant is a loving and caring father and is nice and friendly. She also stated that defendant has a calm, peaceful, and stable relationship with his wife.
Isidra Villa, one of defendant's sisters, testified as the spokesperson for defendant's family. Villa described defendant as "a good brother. He has been very honest. He has always worked a lot. He has always been a good son, and he has been a good uncle. I do have two daughters. He has never been a bad person." Villa advised the court of her family's concern for and support of defendant.
Defense counsel argued in mitigation that, from the beginning of the case, defendant has cooperated with the authorities and the court and never contested his guilt. Defense counsel also argued that defendant is a first offender, 27 years old, has a family, and has been employed for many years. Defense counsel also directed the court's attention to information in the presentence investigation showing that defendant had a substance abuse problem with both narcotics and alcohol.
Defendant exercised his right of allocution and stated:
"I am responsible for my acts. I know that what I have done deserves punishment. I know that what I did to this person, nothing in life can change that, but, within me, in my heart, I am very remorseful, and I ask forgiveness towards the person that I offended. I ask forgiveness. I regret this very much."
At the Conclusion of the sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced defendant on 2 of the 21 counts. On count I, aggravated criminal sexual assault, the trial court sentenced defendant to the maximum of 30 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. On count XI, home invasion, the trial court ...