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People v. Taylor

Supreme Court of Illinois

January 23, 2015

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Appellee,
v.
JOHNNY TAYLOR, Appellant

Page 628

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 629

Reversed and remanded.

SYLLABUS

Where a plea of guilty to armed robbery with a firearm was entered pursuant to a negotiated agreement, and sentence was imposed under a firearm enhancement provision later held invalid as unconstitutionally disproportionate, the cause was remanded for the sentence to be reconfigured as a whole so as to both meet the statutory guidelines as they existed prior to enactment of the invalid enhancement provision and also to meet the expectations of the parties to the original plea agreement.

Michael J. Pelletier, State Appellate Defender, Thomas A. Lilien, Deputy Defender, and Paul Alexander Rogers, Assistant Appellate Defender, of the Office of the State Appellate Defender, of Elgin, for appellant.

Lisa Madigan, Attorney General, of Springfield (Carolyn E. Shapiro, Solicitor General, and Michael M. Glick and Garson S. Fischer, Assistant Attorneys General, of Chicago, of counsel), for the People.

CHIEF JUSTICE GARMAN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Freeman, Thomas, Kilbride, Karmeier, Burke, and Theis concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

GARMAN, CHIEF JUSTICE

Page 630

[¶1] Defendant was charged with two counts of armed robbery while in possession of a firearm, one count of evading arrest, and one count of reckless driving. He pled guilty to one count of armed robbery while in possession of a firearm in exchange for the State's agreement to dismiss the other charges and to recommend a maximum sentence of 30 years. The circuit court sentenced defendant to 24 years in prison, including a statutorily mandated 15-year sentencing enhancement for possession of the firearm. 720 ILCS 5/18-2(a)(2), (b) (West 2004). Defendant moved to withdraw his guilty plea. The circuit court denied his motion and the appellate court affirmed.

[¶2] In 2011, defendant filed a postconviction petition, which the circuit court of Macoupin County dismissed. On appeal, defendant challenged his sentence as unconstitutional. The appellate court, following this court's decision in People v. Hauschild, 226 Ill.2d 63, 871 N.E.2d 1, 312 Ill.Dec. 601 (2007), found the 15-year sentencing enhancement to be a violation of the proportionate penalties clause. People v. Taylor, 2012 IL App. (4th) 110633-U, ¶ 15. The appellate court reversed the dismissal of the postconviction petition and remanded the case to the circuit court. Id. ¶ 23. The State petitioned this court for leave to appeal. We denied the petition but issued a supervisory order instructing the appellate court to vacate its decision and reconsider the validity of the sentence in light of two more recent decisions, People v. Blair, 2013 IL 114122, 986 N.E.2d 75, 369 Ill.Dec. 126, and People v. Donelson, 2013 IL 113603, 989 N.E.2d 1101, 371 Ill.Dec. 173. People v. Taylor, 992 N.E.2d 1, 372 Ill.Dec. 462 (Ill. 2013) (supervisory order). The appellate court vacated its decision and upheld the sentence, finding the enhancement constitutional under Blair. 2013 IL App. (4th) 110633-UB, ¶ 7. We allowed defendant's petition for leave to appeal, pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 315 (eff. July 1, 2013). For the following reasons, we reverse the appellate court's determination that the sentence was constitutional and remand to the circuit court for resentencing in accordance with the statute.

[¶3] BACKGROUND

[¶4] At the sentencing hearing, Louis Nowell, manager of a fast-food restaurant, testified that on August 4, 2005, a woman entered his restaurant with a " skully cap" over her face, pointed a gun at him, and demanded cash. Nowell acquiesced and the woman exited the restaurant with $366. Nowell telephoned the police and watched as the woman entered a vehicle driven by defendant. Nowell then identified the vehicle to the police, who began to follow the vehicle. According to police officer Ryan Ray, who also testified, defendant refused to stop the vehicle when approached by police, and a chase ensued. At multiple points during the chase, the woman shot at the police car, and defendant drove through police blockades. Eventually, defendant lost control of the vehicle and crashed in a wooded area. Both the woman and defendant were arrested.

[¶5] Defendant was charged by information with two counts of armed robbery on a theory of accountability, one count of evading arrest, and one count of reckless driving. After discovery was completed and the woman convicted and sentenced to

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26 years in prison, defendant entered a negotiated plea agreement with the State's Attorney. He pled guilty to one count of armed robbery with a firearm. In exchange, the State agreed to dismiss the remaining charges and recommend a sentence not longer than 30 years.

[¶6] Armed robbery is classified as a Class X felony subject to a 15-year sentencing enhancement if the defendant committed the crime while in possession of a firearm. 720 ILCS 5/18-2(a)(2), (b) (West 2004). A Class X felony conviction carries a statutory sentence of 6 to 30 years in prison. 730 ILCS 5/5-8-1(a)(3) (West 2004). At the sentencing hearing, the parties debated whether the sentencing enhancement applied when a defendant was charged under a theory of accountability. After hearing from the parties and reviewing the ...


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