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People v. Smolley

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

March 2, 2018

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
MARTIZE M. SMOLLEY, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 10th Judicial Circuit, Peoria County, Illinois. Circuit No. 04-CF-613 Honorable Stephen A. Kouri Judge, Presiding.

          JUSTICE LYTTON delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices McDade and O'Brien concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          LYTTON JUSTICE.

         ¶ 1 Defendant Martize M. Smolley was charged with first degree murder and unlawful possession of a firearm when he was 15 years old. He was automatically transferred to adult court, where a bench trial was held. Defendant was convicted of two counts of felony murder and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm. Defendant was originally sentenced to natural life in prison but received a new sentencing hearing, where the trial court sentenced him to a total of 65 years' imprisonment. Defendant appeals, arguing that he is entitled to a discretionary transfer hearing and a new sentencing hearing. We deny defendant's request for a discretionary transfer hearing but vacate his sentence and remand for a new sentencing hearing.

         ¶ 2 FACTS

         ¶ 3 In 2004, when defendant Martize M. Smolley was 15 years old, he was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm (720 ILCS 5/24-3.1(a)(1) (West 2004)) and four counts of first degree murder (id. § 9-1(a)(2)&(3)) for killing Kelly Houser and her daughter, Amy Allen. He was automatically transferred to adult court, pursuant to section 5-130 of the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 (Act) (705 ILCS 405/5-130 (West 2004)).

         ¶ 4 In 2005, defendant's bench trial was held. At the conclusion of the trial, the court found defendant guilty of unlawful possession of a firearm and two counts of felony murder. The trial court sentenced defendant to a mandatory term of natural life in prison. Defendant appealed his sentence, arguing that it violated the proportionate penalties clause of the Illinois Constitution. We affirmed defendant's sentence. See People v. Smolley, 375 Ill.App.3d 167 (2007).

         ¶ 5 In 2008, defendant filed a postconviction petition, again challenging his sentence and also alleging ineffective assistance of his trial and appellate counsel. The State filed a motion to dismiss the petition, which the trial court granted.

         ¶ 6 In 2013, defendant filed a pro se successive postconviction petition, arguing that his mandatory natural life sentence was unconstitutional. The trial court initially denied the petition, and defendant filed a motion to reconsider. The trial court granted defendant's motion to reconsider, granted defendant leave to file a successive postconviction petition, and appointed counsel to represent defendant. In 2015, the State conceded that defendant's natural life sentence was unconstitutional and that a new sentencing hearing should be held.

         ¶ 7 A new sentencing hearing was held in August 2015. At the conclusion of the hearing, the trial court stated:

"Okay. I've considered the presentence investigation report, the evidence and arguments presented, the statement made by the Defendant. I've considered the statutory matters in aggravation and mitigation, the history and character of the Defendant, the circumstances and nature of the offense.
I'm going to sentence the Defendant for each murder, which I understand is consecutive-that's a major factor in how I'm arriving at my decision. I'm going to sentence the Defendant on each murder to 32 and one *** half years for a total of 65 years. No day-for-day. He'll have to serve 100 percent of that time. He'll get credit for the time that he's got in."

         Defendant filed a motion to reconsider his sentence, which the trial ...


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