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Jason Van Dyke's Lawyer Heralds Ruling on Sentence

What to Know

  • A petition for a writ of mandamus asks the Illinois Supreme Court to review whether Van Dyke's 81-month sentence was "proper under the law"
  • Judge Vincent Gaughan last month sentenced Van Dyke to nearly seven years in prison for second-degree murder
  • The filing argued the judge should instead impose a sentence on each of the 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm

A lawyer for a white Chicago police officer convicted of killing black teenager Laquan McDonald says he's "extremely pleased" with a decision by the Illinois Supreme Court to let stand a prison sentence of less than seven years for his client.

The Tuesday decision denies a bid by the Illinois attorney general's office and a special prosecutor to have Jason Van Dyke resentenced. Critics said the sentence was far too lenient. With credit for good behavior, Van Dyke could be freed in three years.

"We are extremely pleased with the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision to deny the challenge to the sentence imposed by the trial court in this case. We hope that the decision will strike a fatal blow to the political exploitation of the death of LaQuan McDonald," Van Dyke's attorney Dan Herbert said in an emailed statement.

"Our judicial system may not be perfect. However the bedrock of the system maintains that all defendants, including unpopular ones, are entitled to fair and impartial treatment. Jason Van Dyke is prepared to serve his debt to society and move on with his life in a meaningful and productive manner."

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul has previously denied politics ever entered into the decision to seek a new sentencing hearing.

"The majority’s denial, without explanation, does not confirm whether Judge Gaughan’s sentence is consistent with Illinois law," Raoul said Tuesday during a press conference. "Nonetheless, we recognize and respect the Court’s authority, which it can exercise without a specific request."

Judge Vincent Gaughan sentenced former Chicago police officer Van Dyke to nearly seven years in prison in January.

Before deciding on a sentence, Gaughan first had to determine if the case fell under the “one act, one crime” doctrine, allowing Van Dyke to be sentenced on only the more serious of the two crimes he was charged with. Van Dyke was convicted of second-degree murder and aggravated battery in a trial last year.

Prosecutors, citing precedent, argued if Van Dyke was sentenced for only one of the two charges, it should be for the aggravated battery charge, which carried a higher sentence.

Defense attorneys countered that second-degree murder was the appropriate charge, despite the possibility of probation. Ultimately, Gaughan chose to sentence Van Dyke for second-degree murder, giving him the 81-month sentence.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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