Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, First Division
from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 86 CR 9932 (02)
The Honorable Lawrence E. Flood, Judge Presiding.
PRESIDING JUSTICE PIERCE delivered the judgment of the court,
with opinion. Justices Harris and Simon concurred in the
judgment and opinion.
1 Defendant Curtis Croft appeals from the second-stage
dismissal of his successive petition for postconviction
relief under the Post-Conviction Hearing Act (725 ILCS
5/122-1 et seq. (West 2014)). His petition asserted
that his discretionary sentence of natural life in prison
without parole was imposed without consideration of the
factors cited in Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460
(2012). The circuit court concluded that defendant's
claims were barred by res judicata in light of our
opinion in People v. Croft, 2013 IL App (1st)
121473, in which we rejected defendant's first
Miller challenge to his discretionary life sentence.
The circuit court therefore dismissed defendant's
2 On appeal, defendant contends that the law has changed
since our previous opinion and that res judicata
does not apply. He further argues that he is entitled to a
new sentencing hearing at which the sentencing court can
consider the "hallmark features" of youth. The
State concedes that res judicata does not bar
defendant's Miller claim but argues that
defendant is not entitled to a new sentencing hearing because
the circuit court considered defendant's youth as well as
defendant's role in the offense in reaching its
discretionary sentence. For the following reasons, we affirm
the judgment of the circuit court.
4 At the age of 17, defendant participated in the gang rape,
kidnapping, and murder of 16-year-old Kim Boyd. An autopsy
revealed that Boyd had been stabbed over 40 times in the
head, face, neck, hands, abdomen, back, and buttocks. She had
bruises on her face, elbow, and back, along with a broken
thigh bone and several fractured ribs. She further sustained
injuries consistent with coming into contact with the
underside of a car. The cause of death was attributed to the
5 A thorough recitation of the facts can be found in our
opinion affirming defendant's convictions. People v.
Croft, 211 Ill.App.3d 496 (1991). We set forth here only
those facts necessary to understand our disposition.
Defendant waived his right to a jury trial. The testimony at
trial showed that a number of people, including defendant and
Boyd, were drinking at defendant's home in the early
morning of July 13, 1986. There was testimony that Demetrius
Henderson struck Boyd and forced her to have sexual
intercourse with him. While Henderson was having sex with
Boyd, defendant forced Boyd to perform oral sex on him.
Henderson and defendant then forced Kevin Campbell and Alonzo
Woodard to have sex with Boyd. After the sexual assault, Boyd
was blindfolded and placed in the trunk of Henderson's
6 Detective Lawrence Tuider testified that he interviewed
defendant and that defendant denied having sex with Boyd.
Defendant told Tuider that he acted as the lookout while Boyd
was taken to the car, and that he was a passenger when
Henderson drove off with Boyd in the trunk. Defendant claimed
to have told Henderson that they should feed Boyd and let her
go home but Henderson refused. They drove to an alley where
they removed Boyd from the trunk and got back in the car.
Defendant was a passenger when Henderson ran Boyd over with
the car five times. Henderson got out of the car and stabbed
Boyd repeatedly, returned to the car, and the two then drove
back to defendant's home and went to sleep.
7 Assistant State's Attorney (ASA) Bernard Murray
testified that he interviewed defendant, who stated that
Henderson struck Boyd and forced her to have sex with him,
and then Woodard had sex with her. Henderson stated that they
would either have to kill Boyd or that she would go to the
police, but defendant did not agree. Defendant said that
Henderson blindfolded Boyd and put her in the trunk of his
car. Defendant claimed to have said they should feed Boyd and
take her home, but Henderson refused. Defendant got in
Henderson's car and the two drove to an alley. Defendant
claimed to have stayed in the car while Henderson took Boyd
out of the trunk, ran over her with the car four to five
times, and then stabbed her repeatedly. Henderson then drove
back to defendant's home.
8 Defendant testified that he did not have sexual intercourse
with Boyd but was present in the room while the others did.
He testified that at about 4 a.m., he was in the car with
Henderson and Boyd. He denied that Boyd was blindfolded or in
the trunk of the car. They stopped at defendant's
girlfriend's house, and defendant knocked on her door but
there was no answer. When he tried to return to the car,
Henderson had driven away. Defendant stated that he told
police and ASA Murray this sequence of events and denied
making any statements inconsistent with his trial testimony.
9 The circuit court found defendant guilty of murder,
aggravated kidnapping, and aggravated criminal sexual
assault. The trial judge, Judge Richard E. Neville, sentenced
defendant to life in prison for murder, 45 years for
aggravated criminal sexual assault, and 10 years for
aggravated kidnapping, with the sentences to run
concurrently. On direct appeal, defendant did not challenge
his convictions but instead argued that the circuit court
improperly relied on his codefendants' statements during
sentencing. We affirmed defendant's convictions but
remanded for resentencing before a different judge.
Croft, 211 Ill.App.3d 496. On remand, circuit court
Judge James N. Schrier presided over the resentencing hearing
held on May 7, 1992. The circuit court heard mitigation
testimony from defendant's father, grandfather,
grandmother, and girlfriend with whom he had a child, as well
as from Reverend Gordon McLean, a minister of 43 years who
had actively counseled prisoners who might be released. The
circuit court also considered defendant's high school
records from Statesville, a letter from a teacher from the
university that taught at Statesville, defendant's
statement in allocution, and arguments from counsel in
aggravation and mitigation. At the end of the hearing, Judge
" '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