Where a defendant asserts that his sentence is excessive, he must either show that it falls outside the permissible statutory range of sentences or produce evidence that the court failed to consider required factors in mitigation.
The 1st District Appellate Court affirmed the decision of Cook County Associate Judge Arthur F. Hill Jr.
Hang Li and his roommate, Lu Wang, were walking to Li’s car — a green Honda Accord — on Dec. 10, 2014, when they were approached by a man with a gun. Li managed to get into the car, but Wang was trapped outside. Li got out when it became clear he could not flee.
The man, later identified as Danarius Jones-Beard, pointed the gun at Li’s abdomen and demanded money and the car. Li and Wang complied, handing over $3 and $5, respectively, as well as the car keys. Once Jones-Beard had driven away, Li called the police.
Chicago police officer Thomas Murphy was on patrol with his partner, Brian Costanzo, when they saw a green Honda Accord being driven by a man not wearing a seatbelt.
The officers pulled the car over and found Jones-Beard inside. When asked for his driver’s license and proof of insurance, Jones-Beard could not produce them. Murphy asked Jones-Beard to get out of the car and as he did, noticed a black firearm in the driver’s seat.
Although similar in size, weight and appearance to the officer’s service weapon, it was found to be a BB gun. Eight dollars were recovered from the center console.
Li identified Jones-Beard as his assailant in a physical lineup later that evening. Wang did not make any identification. After being read his Miranda rights, Jones-Beard agreed to give a statement and stated that he woke up and “set out to rob someone.”
He admitted to robbing two Chinese men of $8 and their car. His conversation with the assistant state’s attorney memorializing this was put in writing and signed.
At trial, the court found Jones-Beard guilty of aggravated vehicular hijacking and two counts of armed robbery, noting that the BB gun “looks just like a gun” and was heavy enough that it “could really really hurt somebody as a bludgeon.”
Jones-Beard was sentenced to two 15-year terms in prison served concurrently. In announcing sentence, the court emphasized that it considered all aspects of Jones-Beard’s case, including his age and difficult childhood as well as his extensive criminal history, noting that he was arrested while on parole, two months after being released from prison for attempted sexual assault. Jones-Beard appealed.
On appeal, Jones-Beard argued that his sentence was excessive given that his offense was nonviolent as well as the mitigating factors of his troubled childhood and his young age at the time of the offense, 21 years old.
Jones-Beard also asserted that the court sought to punish him for exercising his right to trial by sentencing him to 15 years after initially offering him a seven-year sentence for a guilty plea.
For Jones-Beard to show that his sentence was excessive it must either fall outside the permissible statutory range or he must show that the sentencing court failed to consider all the relevant factors.
Fifteen years is within the permissible statutory range, so no such showing could have been made. Further, the court explicitly stated that it considered all the factors in mitigation.
As Jones-Beard produced no evidence demonstrating that the court’s sentence was made without considering the factors in aggravation and with no indication that it was a punishment for exercising his right to trial, the appellate court found no basis on which to grant him his resentencing request.
The appellate court, therefore, affirmed the trial court’s decision.
People v. Danarius Jones-Beard
2019 IL App (1st) 162005
Writing for the court: Justice Michael B. Hyman
Concurring: Justices Mary Anne Mason and Aurelia Pucinski
Released: Feb. 4, 2020