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People v. Handy

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Fourth Division

December 26, 2019

DANTE HANDY, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 97 CR 11558 Honorable James B. Linn, Judge, presiding.

          Attorneys for Appellant: Barry M. Lewis, of Chicago, for appellant.

          Attorneys for Appellee: Kimberly M. Foxx, State's Attorney, of Chicago (Alan J. Spellberg and Annette Collins, Assistant State's Attorneys, of counsel), for the People.

          JUSTICE LAMPKIN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Reyes and Burke concurred in the judgment and opinion.



         ¶ 1 Defendant Dante Handy appeals the judgment of the circuit court denying him leave to file a successive postconviction petition, arguing that he has met the "cause and prejudice" test. In 1998, he received a discretionary sentence of four consecutive 30-year prison terms for crimes he committed when he was 18½ years old. Thereafter, a portion of the sentencing code was ruled a violation of the single subject rule, and defendant's 102-year real time prison term (i.e., 85% of his 120-year sentence, until he was 120½ years old) was subsequently converted to a 60-year real time term, whereby he would become eligible for mandatory supervised release at age 78½ years.

         ¶ 2 On appeal, defendant argues that his sentence is unconstitutional as applied to him under the eighth amendment of the United States Constitution and the proportionate penalties clause of the Illinois Constitution. He contends that his sentence is a de facto life sentence, such sentences are categorically barred as unconstitutional with respect to minors, and Illinois courts have recognized that there is no fine demarcation between offenders just under the age of 18 years and those just over it. He also argues that he has shown rehabilitative potential and this cause should be sent to the trial court for resentencing.

         ¶ 3 For the reasons that follow, we hold that defendant did not establish prejudice for leave to file his successive postconviction petition because he was an adult at the time he committed and significantly participated in the offenses of armed robbery, home invasion, residential burglary, aggravated battery of a senior citizen, kidnapping, aggravated criminal sexual assault, and possession of a stolen motor vehicle. Also, the trial court properly considered relevant factors concerning defendant before imposing his discretionary sentence. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the circuit court.[1]

         ¶ 4 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 5 Following a 1998 jury trial, defendant was found guilty of three counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault, aggravated kidnapping, home invasion, two counts of armed robbery, aggravated battery of a senior citizen, residential burglary, and possession of a stolen motor vehicle. At the trial, the State's evidence showed that on February 23, 1997, defendant and three codefendants, all carrying firearms, invaded the home of a family at about 4 a.m. Defendant and the codefendants robbed, threatened and hit family members at gunpoint, and kidnapped and repeatedly sexually assaulted a 15-year-old girl.

         ¶ 6 Specifically, the victim, Mr. W., was sitting in his van, which was parked in his driveway, and waiting for the vehicle's engine to warm up. His family was inside the house sleeping. Defendant and the three codefendants surrounded Mr. W.'s van, ordered him out of the van at gunpoint, and robbed him of about $7 and cigarettes. All four offenders ordered him to open the garage attached to his house, forced him into the house and followed him inside. All four offenders had their guns pointed at Mr. W.'s head as they followed him down the hallway where the bedrooms were located. Mr. W.'s 74-year-old mother, Mrs. W., was asleep in her room with his twin 6-year-old daughters. Mr. W. turned on the light and told Mrs. W. to wake up. Defendant held a gun to Mr. W.'s head and forced him to initially kneel and eventually lie down on the hallway floor, facing a corner and with his hands on his head. The offenders cursed at the twins, threatened to kill Mr. W., and continually repeated gang slogans. While defendant held a gun to the back of Mr. W.'s head, codefendant Sammy Lowery robbed Mrs. W. of about $12.

         ¶ 7 Then defendant and another codefendant busted into the bedroom of Mr. W.'s 15-year-old daughter. Defendant accused her of being on the phone, and the other codefendant snatched her off her bed and brought her to the hallway. Lowery grabbed her and took her into Mr. W.'s bedroom while defendant returned to the hallway and held his gun to the back of Mr. W.'s head. Lowery took off the teen victim's pajama shorts and underwear, told her to "suck his d*ck," and exposed his penis. Mrs. W. forced her way into the bedroom and tried to stop Lowery by pulling his hands and arms, but Lowery swung at Mrs. W. and threw her off him, causing her to hit the walls, door and furniture. Mrs. W. continued to struggle with Lowery, who struck her and knocked her down, fracturing her finger and bruising her shoulder.

         ¶ 8 Mrs. W. refused to stop fighting, so Lowery took the teen victim back to her own bedroom and attempted to sexually assault her there. Mrs. W. followed them and continued to struggle with Lowery as he dragged her granddaughter to the kitchen. By now, Mr. W. was also in the kitchen area, near the garage door, and defendant continued to hold a gun to Mr. W.'s head. Defendant told Mrs. W., "I should kill your motherf***ing son." Meanwhile, the two other codefendants were taking items, like a video cassette recorder (VCR) and television, from the house. Lowery dragged the teen victim to the den, but he went back into the kitchen because Mrs. W. continued to pull him away from her granddaughter. Defendant and the two other codefendants were yelling to go, but Lowery insisted that they had "to take the b*tch with" them. Lowery yanked the kitchen phone from the wall and told the family not to call the police. While defendant held his gun to Mr. W.'s head, the other two codefendants left the house and Lowery went back into the den, grabbed the teen victim by her arm, and pulled her from the house while Mrs. W. held her granddaughter's other arm and tried to pull her back. Mr. W. felt defendant remove his gun from against Mr. W.'s head and then heard the door close and Mrs. W. yelling outside. While Lowery pulled the teen victim toward her father's van, Lowery struck Mrs. W. with his hand that was holding his gun, causing Mrs. W. to fall down in the snow. By the time Lowery pulled the teen victim into the van, defendant and the two other codefendants were already in the van. Lowery pushed the teen victim to the backseat of the van and the van doors closed.

         ¶ 9 While one codefendant drove the van away from the house, defendant and the other codefendant went to the back of the van where Lowery had begun raping the teen victim. During the kidnapping, the four offenders repeatedly and violently took turns sexually assaulting the victim, often two at a time. At one point, Lowery penetrated her vagina with his penis, and defendant put his penis in her mouth. Then defendant argued with Lowery because defendant wanted to get on top of the victim. Defendant kept saying, "I want some too." So, Lowery and defendant switched places, and defendant put his penis in the victim's vagina while Lowery put his penis in her mouth. Defendant screamed, moaned and said that he was "coming." Then defendant drove the van while the codefendants continued gang raping the victim.

         ¶ 10 The victim could not recall exactly how many times each of the four offenders sexually assaulted her, saying, "It was too many times." At one point, defendant told Lowery to put the victim out of the van. When Lowery refused, defendant threatened to shoot the victim and pointed his gun at her back. The whole time in the van, the offenders were yelling "GD" and "BD." They argued amongst themselves, each one telling the others to let him "get to" the victim. They also talked about smoking marijuana when they were done and kept saying to each other to "take her to 69th and Green." Lowery even asked the victim several times if she wanted to be his girlfriend. When the van stopped, all four offenders exited the van. The victim tried unsuccessfully to start the van. She retreated to the back of the van before Lowery and another codefendant got back in the van. While the codefendant drove, Lowery sexually assaulted the victim again. When the codefendant stopped the van, he threatened to kill the victim's family if she told anyone what had happened and gave her directions to the expressway. The codefendant and Lowery exited the van, and the victim drove home.

         ¶ 11 At about 5 a.m., defendant's neighbor was returning home to her apartment, which was across the hall from defendant's apartment, when defendant ran up the stairs behind her, carrying a revolver. She asked him a question, but he just went inside his apartment and slammed the door closed. When she questioned his behavior, he cursed at her through the door. The three codefendants arrived shortly thereafter, visibly carrying their guns. One of the codefendants brought a television, and Lowery's penis was ...

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