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The People of the State of Illinois v. Meagan M. Markley

January 31, 2013


Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 9th Judicial Circuit, Fulton County, Illinois, Circuit No. 11-CF-14 Honorable William C. Davis, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice McDADE

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

Presiding Justice Wright and Justice Schmidt concurred in the judgment and opinion.


¶ 1 Defendant, Meagan M. Markley, was convicted of two counts of aggravated reckless driving (625 ILCS 5/11-503(a)(1) (West 2010)) and sentenced to 24 months' imprisonment. On appeal, defendant argues that: (1) the trial court erred in failing to dismiss the matter or transfer it to the juvenile court; (2) the concurrent jurisdiction statute violates the federal and state constitutions; (3) the trial court erred in convicting her of aggravated reckless driving; and (4) her sentence was an abuse of discretion. We affirm.


¶ 3 On January 7, 2011, the State charged defendant by information with two counts of aggravated reckless driving (625 ILCS 5/11-503(a)(1) (West 2010)). The charges were filed in Fulton County criminal court. At the time of charging, Defendant was 16 years of age. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss or transfer the case to the juvenile court. The trial court denied her motion, and the case proceeded to a stipulated bench trial.

¶ 4 The parties stipulated that on April 3, 2010, defendant was driving her vehicle on Roberts Road in Fulton County, Illinois. Levi Sloan, Anissa Morgan, and Rachel Anderson were passengers in the vehicle. The posted speed limit was 55 miles per hour, and defendant was driving between 80 and 115 miles per hour. Defendant lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a utility pole. The Illinois state police identified a "slight dip" in the road near the point where defendant lost control of the vehicle. Toxicology reports confirmed that defendant did not have drugs or alcohol in her system, and witness statements and information subpoenaed from Verizon Wireless confirmed that defendant was not distracted by cellular telephone use. Anissa Morgan and Rachel Anderson died as a result of injuries they sustained in the crash. In a police interview, defendant admitted that Anderson liked the "butterfly feeling as they went over little dips in the road." Sloan told police that defendant was "not going super-fast," but the front wheels of defendant's vehicle came off the ground as they went over a rise near Seven Hills Road. Thereafter, defendant swerved to stay out of a ditch and lost control of the vehicle.

¶ 5 After arguments on the stipulation, the trial court found that defendant operated her vehicle in excess of 100 miles per hour on a secondary rural road that was not designed for high-speed travel. Defendant lost control of her vehicle after hitting a pothole. The court stated that although there was no evidence that defendant was familiar with the road, even if she had been familiar with the road and its defects, her act of driving over 100 miles per hour constituted reckless driving. Alternatively, if defendant was unfamiliar with the road, she would not know what dangers or defects lay ahead and this, too, constituted reckless driving. The court convicted defendant of two counts of aggravated reckless driving.

¶ 6 Before pronouncing defendant's sentence, the court stated that it had considered all of the evidence. The court went through the statutory factors in aggravation, noting that (1) defendant's conduct caused or threatened serious harm, (2) the sentence was necessary to deter others from committing the same offense, and (3) defendant committed the offense of aggravated reckless driving and was operating a motor vehicle in excess of 20 miles per hour over the posted speed limit. See 730 ILCS 5/5-5-3.2(a)(1), (7), (21) (West 2010). The court found that the second factor in mitigation, i.e., that "defendant did not contemplate that [her] criminal conduct would cause or threaten serious physical harm to another," did not apply. 730 ILCS 5/5-5-3.1 (a)(2) (West 2010). However, it found in mitigation that: (1) defendant did not have a history of prior delinquency or criminal activity, and she led a law-abiding life for a substantial period of time before committing the present crime; (2) defendant's character and attitude indicated that she was unlikely to commit another crime; and (3) defendant was particularly likely to comply with the term of a period of probation. See 730 ILCS 5/5-5-3.1(a)(7), (8), (10) (West 2010). The court noted that a young person generally gets a more lenient sentence; however, defendant's first criminal offense was so serious that her sentence required "far more than a slap on the hand." The court sentenced defendant to 28 months' imprisonment in the Department of Corrections. Defendant filed a motion to reconsider sentence, and the court amended defendant's sentence to 24 months' imprisonment. Defendant appeals.


¶ 8 I. Jurisdiction

¶ 9 Defendant argues that Illinois law required that her case be filed in the juvenile court. Defendant contends that the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 (Act) (705 ILCS 405/1-1 et seq. (West 2010)), requires that a minor facing jail time must receive the protections of the Act. See People

v. Sims, 104 Ill. App. 3d 55 (1982). As defendant's offense was punishable by a prison sentence, defendant concludes that it should have ...

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