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People v. Croft

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Second Division

November 26, 2013

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
CURTIS CROFT, Defendant-Appellant.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 86 CR 9932 Honorable Lawrence Flood, Judge Presiding.

PRESIDING JUSTICE QUINN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Simon and Pierce concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

QUINN, Presiding Justice.

¶ 1 Defendant Curtis Croft appeals from the second-stage dismissal of his petition for relief under the Post-Conviction Hearing Act (Act) (725 ILCS 5/122-1 et seq. (West 2012)). He contends that the circuit court erred in dismissing his petition where his sentence of natural life without parole was imposed without consideration of the factors cited in Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. ___, 132 S.Ct. 2455 (2012). For the reasons stated, we affirm.

¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

¶ 3 At the age of 17, defendant participated in the gang rape and murder of 16-year-old Kim Boyd. Following a 1987 bench trial, he was found guilty of murder, aggravated kidnapping, and aggravated criminal sexual assault, then sentenced to natural life imprisonment for the murder, 45 years for aggravated criminal sexual assault, and 10 years for aggravated kidnapping, to run concurrently. This court affirmed defendant's convictions on direct appeal; however, we vacated his sentence and remanded the cause for a new sentencing hearing after finding that the trial court improperly considered the statements of his codefendants at sentencing. People v. Croft, 211 Ill.App.3d 496 (1991). On remand, a different judge presided over defendant's sentencing hearing and imposed the same sentence as before, stating:

"The defendant talks about mistake in judgment. This is not a case of passive presence, negative acquiescence, mistaken judgment, none [sic] participation. It is not a situation of not using good judgment to associate with certain people, in effect then being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
This is a case of the defendant's participation in the series of events which properly resulted in guilty findings as to murder and aggravated kidnapping and aggravated criminal sexual assault. The evidence in this case seems to me to be about a person who was really cold hearted, almost inhuman in his participation in this brutal, heinous, evil doing. One of the most brutal crimes I have ever seen in all the years I've spent in this building.
About 40 stab wounds, gang rape, driving over this young girl in a car, after having her in the trunk. One can almost not imagine any worst [sic] facts. Nightmarish is almost too weak a word. It staggers the imagination.
And this defendant cannot simply say, gee, I'm terribly sorry this all happened.
There is [sic] certain crimes that there are no second chances. There are [sic] no one free bite. There are no forgivenesses, saying I'm sorry, expressing regret. Even if I were to consider the defendant's words about mistake in judgment to be equivalent, are [sic] not good enough.
There was a participation in one of the brutal crimes that I've heard about. And for that a great penalty must be paid.
The victim cannot be brought back and the family's tragedy, which the defendant alluded to in his remarks cannot be allayed. I [sic] simply saying, well, I'm sorry it happened. I'm sorry, I was there or legally participated.
So, considering the presentence report, considering the arguments and testimony and evidence at this sentencing hearing, considering the factors set forth in the statute, considering the crime and the criminal, the crime being about as heinous a murder as one can imagine, and by a person who because of the nature of the crime, one can only determine to have evil intentions and to be ...

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