Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kane County. No. 07-CF-1516. Honorable Timothy Q. Sheldon, Judge, Presiding.
Sentence vacated; cause remanded.
The 60-year sentence imposed on defendant for first-degree murder was vacated and the cause was remanded for resentencing, since the trial court improperly considered the aggravating factor that the victim was " a member of the greatest generation, a World War II veteran," and " a very good man," and the record did not show that the weight placed on that improperly considered factor did not lead to a greater sentence.
Thomas A. Lilien and Vicki P. Kouros, both of State Appellate Defender's Office, of Elgin, for appellant.
Joseph H. McMahon, State's Attorney, of St. Charles (Lawrence M. Bauer and Kathryn E. Kohls, both of State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office, of counsel), for the People.
JUSTICE HUTCHINSON delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justice McLaren concurred in the judgment and opinion. Justice Hudson specially concurred, with opinion.
[¶1] Defendant, Hector M. Mauricio, appeals, asserting that the trial court abused its discretion when it imposed on him a 60-year sentence for the first-degree murder
(720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(1) (West 2006)) of Roscoe Ebey. He argues, among other things, that the trial court based the sentence in part on an improper aggravating factor, Ebey's personal traits. We agree that this is an improper factor. We further hold that the record does not demonstrate that the trial court's consideration of this improper factor did not lead to a greater sentence. We therefore must vacate the 60-year sentence and remand the matter for resentencing. This being the case, we need not address defendant's other claim of error, that the trial court failed to give sufficient weight to certain mitigating factors; on remand, the court will necessarily weigh all proper factors anew.
[¶2] I. BACKGROUND
[¶3] Defendant entered a blind guilty plea to a charge of first-degree murder; the charge stemmed from the May 29, 2007, stabbing death of Ebey. At sentencing, the trial court heard testimony from a neighbor who arrived at the crime scene, sheriff's deputies who were dispatched to the scene, and expert witnesses, including the coroner's physician, who presented forensic evidence.
[¶4] According to the trial court's summary, the autopsy showed " 79 total injuries, stab wounds, incised wounds, puncture wounds, abrasions, two stab wounds being fatal, 36 total stab wounds, 38 incised wounds, two puncture wounds, three abrasion wounds, and a burn wound."
[¶5] The trial court stated that it had initially considered all the factors relating to death-penalty eligibility and had concluded that defendant was death-penalty eligible. It took notice of defendant's criminal history: he had a history of battery convictions followed by poor probation compliance. It noted that he had been in a fight while incarcerated and had spat on a deputy. He had been sent to the Department of Corrections twice and had been a street gang member and a long-term drug user.
[¶6] On the mitigating side, the trial court noted that defendant's father had murdered defendant's brother and that another brother was imprisoned. It also noted a psychologist's report that described defendant's upbringing as having been in a kind of " urban war zone." Defendant's mother was alcoholic and his living situation growing up was highly unstable. Defendant's murdered brother had been the main source of family stability. After the brother's murder, defendant's grandparents took his sister to Arizona, but he stayed behind. The trial court noted his respectful demeanor in court, that he had mostly been a model detainee, that he had " accepted Christianity" and become a " faithful follower" while incarcerated, " which is also a plus on his part," and that he had gotten a GED and tried " to better his life" while incarcerated.
[¶7] The trial court noted that it had considered the financial impact of incarceration and agreed that the following applied in aggravation: " factor 3 ['the defendant has a history of prior delinquency or criminal activity'; ] factor 7 ['the sentence is necessary to deter others from committing the same crime'; ] *** and also factor 8, the victim ...