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People v. Etherton

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fifth District

June 26, 2017

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
RANDY ETHERTON, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Jackson County. No. 13-CF-602, Honorable William G. Schwartz, Judge, presiding.

          Attorneys for Appellant Michael J. Pelletier, State Appellate Defender, Ellen J. Curry, Deputy Defender, Ian C. Barnes, Assistant Appellate Defender, Office of the State Appellate Defender.

          Attorneys for Appellee Hon. Michael Carr, State's Attorney, Jackson County Courthouse; Patrick Delfino, Director, David J. Robinson, Acting Deputy Director, Chelsea E. Kasten, Staff Attorney, Office of the State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor.

          GOLDENHERSH JUSTICE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Chapman and Cates concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          HONORABLE RICHARD P. GOLDENHERSH, J. JUSTICES.

         ¶ 1 Defendant, Randy Etherton, appeals from a final judgment of conviction of a single count of residential burglary, a Class 1 felony. 720 ILCS 5/19-3(a) (West 2012). He was sentenced as a Class X offender due to his prior criminal convictions, which carries a sentencing range of 6 to 30 years. 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-25(a) (West 2012). Defendant was sentenced to 20 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections and was ordered to serve 3 years mandatory supervised release.

         ¶ 2 On appeal, defendant argues the abuse of discretion standard employed by Illinois courts in reviewing the imposition of a sentence should be abandoned because it is inconsistent with the Illinois Constitution, Illinois Supreme Court Rule 615(b), and the Unified Code of Corrections (Code) (730 ILCS 5/1-1-1 et seq. (West 2012)). Defendant argues the gravity of determining the proper sentence to be imposed is incongruent with such a narrow standard of review. Alternatively, if this court does not abandon the abuse of discretion standard, defendant alleges the trial court abused its discretion by imposing a 20-year sentence for residential burglary. Defendant contends his sentence was excessive in light of the nature of the offense and the mitigating evidence presented.

         ¶ 3 Since we are bound by the abuse of discretion standard employed in reviewing the imposition of a sentence and find no abuse of discretion in the court's 20-year sentence, we affirm. Wreglesworth v. Arctco, Inc., 316 Ill.App.3d 1023, 1030 (2000) (the appellate court is bound by the principle of stare decisis and, therefore, must adhere to the decisions of our supreme court). However, we encourage our supreme court to revisit the concept discussed in the dissent of People v. Perruquet, 68 Ill.2d 149 (1977), which is that sentences be reviewed not solely for an abuse of discretion but also for whether the trial court followed the constitutional and statutory guidelines.

         ¶ 4 BACKGROUND

         ¶ 5 On December 11, 2013, deputies with the Jackson County sheriff's department were dispatched to 374 Pomona Road in Pomona, Illinois, to investigate a report of burglary. Upon arrival, the officers met with Katherine Fox, the resident of that location. Fox informed the officers that upon her arrival home from visiting her sister in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, she observed a truck towards the end of her driveway, which was stuck in the snow. Fox also observed two other vehicles in the area assisting the truck. Fox provided vehicle descriptions to the officers.

         ¶ 6 Fox stated that as she approached her residence, she discovered the front door had been forced open. Fox ultimately discovered jewelry items were missing from her residence. The Marion police department subsequently located defendant's vehicle and conducted a traffic stop. Defendant was identified as the driver of the truck that was stuck in Fox's driveway, and a passenger was identified as James Webb. Defendant's vehicle was searched, and a large number of jewelry items were discovered in defendant's vehicle. Fox later identified these jewelry items as the items that were missing from her residence and also identified a Dremel tool that had been stolen from her residence. Further, police discovered footwear impressions in the snow near Fox's residence that were determined to be consistent with the tread pattern of defendant's boots.

         ¶ 7 Following a jury trial held on April 2, 2014, defendant was convicted of residential burglary, a Class 1 felony. 720 ILCS 5/19-3(a) (West 2012). Defendant was 34 years old at the time the offense was committed. Due to his prior criminal convictions, defendant faced a Class X sentencing range of 6 to 30 years. 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-95(b) (West 2012).

         ¶ 8 Defendant's sentencing hearing was held on July 2, 2014, where defendant called two witnesses to testify in mitigation. The first witness called was defendant's mother, Pam Ellis, who testified that defendant has a teenage daughter whom he had grown close to after his release from federal custody (defendant was in federal custody from 2003 to 2012 as a result of pleading guilty to conspiracy to manufacture more than 50 grams of methamphetamine). Ellis further testified that defendant helped her around the house and that she needed defendant in her life. The second witness called was defendant's fiancée, Michelle Rice, who testified defendant had been living with her and her five children for a couple months prior to the offense. Rice testified defendant cared for her children as if they were his own and stated defendant's incarceration would have a difficult impact on her family. Rice testified defendant was a good person who helped her financially.

         ¶ 9 Defendant also made a statement on his own behalf. Defendant stated the greatest lesson he learned from this incident is the "consequences and association with those still living in a criminal lifestyle." Defendant stated he was in the process of changing his lifestyle and was "being looked at differently as a hard worker, provider, father." Defendant requested that the court consider his family and his achievements to change his life for the better, which included his attendance ...


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