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People v. McKee

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

May 9, 2017

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
BETHANY L. McKEE, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 12th Judicial Circuit No. 13-CF-100, Will County, Illinois. The Honorable Gerald R. Kinney, Judge, presiding.

          McDADE JUSTICE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Carter and Schmidt concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          McDADE JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 The defendant, Bethany L. McKee, was convicted of two counts of first degree murder

(720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(1) (West 2012)) following a bench trial and was sentenced to natural life imprisonment. On appeal, McKee raises an as-applied constitutional challenge to her sentence. We affirm.

         ¶ 2 FACTS

         ¶ 3 On April 25, 2013, the State charged McKee, Adam Landerman, Alisa Massaro, and Joshua Miner by superseding indictment with six counts of first degree murder in connection with the strangulation deaths of Eric Glover and Terrance Rankins.

         ¶ 4 The circuit court held a bench trial in August 2014 at which the evidence presented tended to establish the following facts.

         ¶ 5 On January 10, 2013, at shortly before 4:00 p.m., McKee's father placed a call to the police to report two dead individuals in the residence occupied by Alisa Massaro and her father, Phillip. When the police responded, they first had contact with Massaro, who said there were two other individuals hiding in the house-Miner was hiding upstairs and Landerman was hiding downstairs. One officer found Miner upstairs where the two bodies were located; both bodies were face down and showed signs of rigor mortis. One of the bodies was lying on top of black garbage bags that had been separated at the seams with its head wrapped in a plastic grocery bag. The head on the other body had been wrapped in a red plastic bag and was resting on a pillow. Miner told police that he had killed one of the men and Landerman had killed the other. Eventually, the police also discovered Landerman in the house.

         ¶ 6 McKee was not at the scene, but she was located driving her vehicle in Kankakee; she was stopped and taken into custody in connection with the murders. At the police station, when a detective told McKee that he wanted to speak with her, she said she wanted to talk, that she wanted to tell the truth, and that she wanted to know how much time she would get for being an accessory to murder. McKee was taken into an interview room, read her Miranda rights (which she waived), and interrogated. A recording of the interrogation was introduced into evidence.

         ¶ 7 In January 2013, McKee and her 15-month old daughter were staying in Massaro's residence in Joliet. Massaro occupied the second floor, while her father lived on the first floor.

         ¶ 8 On the night of January 9, 2013, Miner, who was Massaro's boyfriend, and Landerman were hanging out with McKee and Massaro at Massaro's residence. Short on money to buy alcohol and cigarettes, the group began discussing how to come up with some money. McKee had received a text from Rankins, who asked her if she wanted to drink alcohol with him and his friend, Glover. McKee mentioned to the group that Rankins always carried a large amount of cash, as he had two days earlier when she and Massaro had contacted him to buy them alcohol. Thereafter, the group began discussing a plot to rob Rankins.

         ¶ 9 Miner stated that he could beat up and kill Rankins and Glover, and then steal their money. Landerman volunteered to help him. McKee indicated in her interview that she did not think anything was going to happen, but she also admitted that she went along with the plan.

         ¶ 10 McKee contacted Rankins, luring him and Glover to the residence. The group set up a signal to indicate when McKee and Massaro were to leave the room so ...


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