Madison - St. Clair Record

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Appeals court rules 22-year sentence for armed violence not excessive


By John Breslin | Mar 1, 2019


MOUNT VERNON, Ill. -- A 22-year sentence imposed by a circuit court judge after the defendant pleaded guilty to armed violence was not excessive, the Fifth District Appellate Court has affirmed.

Robert Plair had pleaded guilty to one count of armed violence linked to a knife attack on a former partner who already had a protective order against him.

In a unanimous judgment authored by Justice Judy Cates of the Fifth District, it was found that Judge Randall W. Kelley of the St. Clair County Circuit Court did not make a mistake when imposing the sentence as the defendant did not show the decision was "unauthorized by law or an abuse of discretion."

The offense was detailed in the appeals court judgment. Plair had met his former partner on the street and asked her for money for beer. When she refused, he stabbed her in the chest and the arm.

Prior to handing down the sentence, the trial court found that Plair was informed of the charges, the punishment range and the consequences of his plea, which was "knowing and voluntary."

Plair had petitioned the circuit court to reduce his sentence, arguing that it was too high because he did not kill anyone, that his sentence should have been six to 30 years, and that his children and aging mother relied on him for care.

When these attempts failed, Plair filed an appeal.

He argued the sentence was "excessive." because the trial court did not take into account mitigating factors, including his mental illness, drug and alcohol addiction, his remorse and his family's support of his rehab efforts.

Cates, in a judgment to which justices Thomas Welch and  Melissa Chapman concurred, stated, "In this case, the sentencing court imposed the 22-year sentence after considering appropriate factors in mitigation and aggravation, including the defendant’s mental health and substance abuse issues, his criminal history, and his rehabilitation potential."

She added that the defendant's action was "violent and unprovoked, and his victim suffered  serious physical and emotional injuries."

"The sentence imposed is within the permissible statutory range for the armed violence offense," Cates wrote. "Additionally, the sentence is not at great variance with the spirit and purpose of the law, and it is not manifestly disproportionate to the nature of the offense."

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