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The People of the State of Illinois v. Deonte Moore

September 2, 2011


Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 10th Judicial Circuit, Peoria County, Illinois, Circuit No. 09-CF-497 Honorable Chris L. Frederickson and James E. Shadid, Judges, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Lytton

Unpublished opinion

JUSTICE LYTTON delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

Presiding Justice Carter concurred in the judgment and opinion.

Justice Wright specially concurred, with opinion.


¶ 1 Defendant, 13-year-old Deonte Moore, was convicted of armed robbery under the Criminal Code of 1961 (Criminal Code) (720 ILCS 5/18-2(a)(2) (West 2008)) and sentenced to 21 years in prison. On appeal, he claims that (1) the trial court erred in transferring him to criminal court to be tried as an adult, and (2) the application of the mandatory 15-year gun enhancement to his 6-year sentence violates the federal and state constitutions. We vacate the decision to transfer defendant and remand to juvenile court for further proceedings.

¶ 2 On April 14, 2009, defendant was charged by juvenile petition with armed robbery of a bank in Peoria. In the petition, the State alleged that defendant:

"committed the offense of armed robbery in violation of 720 ILCS 5/18-2(A), in that said minor, while armed with a dangerous weapon, a firearm, knowingly took property, being United States currency."

¶ 3 Three days later, the State filed a motion to transfer, seeking to remove the cause from juvenile court and try defendant as an adult. At the hearing, the State introduced a copy of defendant's birth certificate, crime scene photographs, the handgun, and the bank security video. The trial court also took judicial notice of juvenile case No. 07-DJ-495 in which defendant choked his grandmother and was adjudicated a delinquent for domestic battery. The file indicated that defendant had been placed on probation for that offense and that he failed to keep his appointments with his probation officer.

¶ 4 The State presented testimony from the officers involved in the armed robbery incident. Their testimony revealed that defendant approached the bank alone and on foot. He pulled his sweatshirt hood over his head and placed a red bandana over his face. He then entered the bank while carrying a .22-caliber handgun, pointed the gun at a nearby teller and demanded money. The teller froze and was unable to respond to his orders. He asked her if she thought it was a joke and then approached another teller. With the gun raised to the teller's face, defendant told her to put all the money in her drawer in a pillow case that he had placed on the counter. She put the money, along with several premarked bills and an exploding dye pack, into the bag. Defendant then thanked the teller and left the bank.

¶ 5 Officers testified that they pursued defendant, chasing him down several streets, until they found him hiding behind a couch in a residential garage. Defendant had red dye all over his sweatshirt. During his apprehension, defendant told the officers that the gun he used was a BB gun. He later told them that the handgun was real but that he did not think it was loaded.

¶ 6 Following his arrest, defendant admitted that he robbed the bank using a small black handgun. Detective Jim Turner testified that during his interview, defendant stated that he checked the magazine of the handgun and thought it was empty, but that there may have been a bullet in the chamber. Defendant told Turner that when the dye pack exploded, he thought he had shot himself. Defendant said that he robbed the bank because he had run away from home and needed money for food and clothes and a haircut. He then told the detective that he threw the gun in a window well as he was fleeing the scene.

¶ 7 Officer Douglas Hopwood testified that he and other officers recovered the handgun and the pillow case from the window well. The magazine of the gun was empty, and it was not loaded.

¶ 8 Defendant's mother, Juanita Moore, testified that she had difficulty enforcing rules with her son. If he disagreed with her, he would just run away. Defendant ran away from home a few days before the robbery. She believed that defendant was living with someone named Tyrone and that it was Tyrone's idea to rob the bank. She testified that defendant has been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder but did not take medication for his condition. She further testified that defendant had drug and alcohol issues and had started, but failed to complete, anger management classes. According to her testimony, defendant had never had a full psychological evaluation, nor had he attended special education classes or professional counseling sessions.

¶ 9 In defense counsel's closing argument, he stated:

"If this were to be transferred, my client is looking at a minimum of several years in the Department of Corrections, especially if the State would seek to enhance this. If this stays in juvenile court, there is [sic], as I previously stated, your Honor, several services and facilities for which my client could be punished and rehabilitated."

¶ 10 The juvenile judge considered the factors under the discretionary transfer provision of the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 (Act) (705 ILCS 405/5-805(3)(b) (West 2008)) and orally pronounced his findings. Regarding the advantages and treatment options within each system, the court stated, "I have considered the advantages and treatment within the juvenile justice system. There are facilities available where minors can be treated." The court then noted defendant's failure to attend probation meetings. As a result, the court determined that defendant would be unwilling to cooperate on juvenile probation. The court found probable cause to believe that the allegations in the petition were true and that it was in the best interests of the public to proceed under the Criminal Code. The court then granted the State's motion to transfer.

¶ 11 The State filed a superceding bill of indictment charging defendant as an adult. The indictment provided:

"[Defendant], a person under 15 years of age while armed with a dangerous weapon, a firearm, did take property being United States currency from the person or presence of Kathleen Sayers by threatening the imminent use of force."

ΒΆ 12 Prior to trial, defense counsel moved to vacate the order transferring the cause to criminal court. At the hearing, the State noted that, if convicted, defendant could be sentenced to a range of 6 to 30 years in prison for a Class X felony. The trial court concluded that the ...

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