The Fifth District Appellate Court has affirmed St. Clair County Circuit Judge John Baricevic who denied the post conviction petition of a 16-year-old sentenced as an adult to 15 years in prison for a Belleville armed robbery.
The Rule 23 order filed July 28, was written by Justice Melissa Chapman. Justices Thomas Welch and James Moore concurred.
According to court records, defendant Marnez Crawford and his cousin "C.T." - also 16 at the time of the crime - approached a group of two men and two women in a Belleville park in March 2009 with the intent to rob them. Crawford held a gun on a victim and threatened to shoot him while C.T. removed a wallet from a victim's pocket. Crawford and C.T. then fled the scene and were later arrested.
C.T. is identified as Charles Tigue in a 2010 St. Louis Post-Dispatch article.
Both teens were charged with armed robbery with a firearm, a Class X felony that required they be tried as adults.
While Crawford reached agreement to plead guilty to armed robbery with a dangerous weapon, C.T. was ultimately tried as a delinquent minor for simple robbery and received probation.
In his appeal, Crawford argued that his sentence was constitutionally disproportionate to C.T.'s sentence; that his sentence violated clauses of the U.S. and state Constitutions because he was convicted of a lesser charge that would not require a mandatory transfer from juvenile to adult court and that his sentence should be vacated because the state failed to request a hearing to have him sentenced in adult court.
At an evidentiary hearing on Oct. 10, 2013, on an amended post conviction petition, Crawford was the only witness. He argued in part that the sentences were unfair because he and C.T. both admitted to participating in the crime and both were 16. He also questioned why C.T. was allowed to proceed as a juvenile and he was not.
Baricevic denied Crawford's petition on Oct. 21, 2013, noting that C.T. received a "markedly less severe sentence," while also pointing out that Crawford was the one holding the gun during the robbery, not C.T.
The order quotes Baricevic: "[I]t is reasonable for an individual that threatened one with a dangerous weapon to receive a longer sentences [sic] than an unarmed accomplice."
Chapman wrote, "Where defendant's sentence was not constitutionally disproportionate to that received by his codefendant, we affirm the denial of his postconviction petition.
"Where defendant did not establish that his sentencing in adult court was in violation of the U.S. and Illinois Constitutions, we affirm his sentence. Where the State was not statutorily required to request an adult sentencing hearing for defendant, we affirm his sentence."