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GUILTY OF MURDER IN THE FIRST DEGREE(61 posts)

GUILTY OF MURDER IN THE FIRST DEGREErollo tommassi
Dec 4, 2001 2:54 PM
Carnel Fitzpatrick has been found guilty by a Chicago jury.

Very mixed emotions for me - this isn't good news, but it is a strange comfort for when I take to the road.

Please everyone ride and drive safely and with compassion for your fellow travelers.
Who? Fill us in on the details. NMErik W
Dec 4, 2001 3:01 PM
In a nutshellmorrison
Dec 4, 2001 3:08 PM
I remember some of this . . . there was a bike messenger in Chicago who was killed in early 2000 (or maybe '99) in a road rage incident. The driver was Fitzpatrick, who was accused of running the guy down in his SUV. I think the victim was named Mac(***something***)? Anyone else know anything?
sorry - too excited to include the 'nutshell'!rollo tommassi
Dec 4, 2001 3:14 PM
Yes - cyclist intentionally run down by driver, in Chicago.
I'd posted last week regarding the trial progress.

full trial/case coverage at www.chicagocriticalmass.org
Why not good news?js5280
Dec 4, 2001 3:34 PM
It's not a death sentence but is there any other higher charge, beside death, he could be convicted of? It looked like they were trying to get a 2nd degree charge. Cruel and unusal punishment would be more fitting but unfortunately it is illegal. Of course I'm an optimist; maybe he'll be sodomized, shiv'd, and die a more painful death than the bike courier he maliciously ran over and dragged to his death. If not, the mental torture from years of confinement and a special spot in hell awaits him. Of course if he's out in a few years so we can make room for more of those extremely violent pot smokers, then I'll be pissed.
Why not good news?rollo tommassi
Dec 4, 2001 3:56 PM
The State of Illinois charges brought against him were for first degree murder; the Assistant District Attorneys' office felt so strongly about their case that they felt it deserved the highest penalty. As I understand it, the jury was instructed that they were bound to only choose guilty or not guilty - they could not decide upon a lesser charge.

I say that it's not 'good news' only in so much as it is hard to celebrate when someone has been so cruelly and brutally killed. To save you reading through all of the testimony, the evidence showed the victims' fingerprints, hair and blood were found INSIDE THE WHEELWELL of the vehicle (drivers' side). So, yes, I am 'happy' that justice has been served, but I can also picture Thomas' head and torso being mangled in the machinery. Hard to say if Mr. Fitzpatrick will ever feel that sort of pain and misery - even if he does get buggered in jail ;)
But how long will he serve?Mike P
Dec 4, 2001 4:03 PM
It would not surprise me if the sentance turns out to be light (compared to if he had shot someone with a gun).

Being pissed-off (road rage) is no excuse for killing someone. And as far as I am concerned, people experiencing road rage react in a somewhat premeditated manner. The "road-rager", stuck behind whatever set him/her off, decides to do something, and then does it. It is a decision, just like putting a gun to someones head and pulling the trigger.

But no matter what the the outcome is, the guy riding the bike is gone. No parole, no visitation, no community service, just gone.

Sorry about the little rant. After reading the links rollo posted the other day I was angry and sad.

Mike
But how long will he serve?rollo tommassi
Dec 4, 2001 4:22 PM
thanks for reading all those links, Mike; you are not alone in being angry and sad, so you are allowed a rant!

You are very right about how drivers' being "stuck behind" will react, and this was the crux of the trial: INTENT. There is no doubt that the driver killed the cyclist, but the key is that he utterly intended to do so. I think in the past "premeditated" means there was some period of time of thinking about committing the act - a day, a hour, whatever. This case, to me, implies that "rage" is an extension of premeditated behavior, i.e., how a person decides to react to a given situation. Who knows when this 'premeditation' occured to Mr. Fitzpatrick, perhaps he said to himself one day: "the next time I see one of those damn cyclists, I'll show him who's in charge". The intent is formed weeks and months in advance; only the trigger remains to be pulled.

That was the level of risk of charging him with first degree - otherwise it's reckless homicide, which is ususally a result of an "accident".

I don't know when sentencing will occur, probably by the end of this week. I let you all know. I think this case has ramifications for all of us across the nation. Thanks for staying tuned.
VerdictBrooks
Dec 4, 2001 4:53 PM
I read the Critical Mass reports and links, too. Maybe the lawyers among us will chime in, but aren't there federal sentencing guidelines that apply, or are those just for federal cases? How about state sentencing guidelines in Illinois? First degree is first degree, doesn't matter if with a gun or vehicle. I think I would have had a hard time as a juror on that one, I'd probably want a lesser charge.

I try not to hit cars or flip off drivers because of the 2000 pounds of steel in his control. I may yell and wave just to alert the driver that "Hey, I am here and I have a right to the road, too". I also don't use mirrors, I know when a car approaches and I'm sure I don't want to see someone aiming at me. Just my $.02 worth.

Ride in peace.
Brooks
Ditto on the chargekenyee
Dec 4, 2001 5:34 PM
I've been on 4 juries already (one as a foreman) and I'm not sure I would have agreed to 1st degree murder (would have pushed for a choice because I think the jury would have had a high chance of disagreement). I would have thought 2nd degree murder would have been more appropriate (road rage being closer to temporary insanity).

As for the tool of murder, it's something that our society is letting distract us. It should never matter what was used, whether it be gun, baseball bat, rag, tire iron, knife, etc. Focusing on the object only tends to let people blame the object instead of focusing the blame on the person and the techniques. A particularly gruesome murder should be punished more severely because it indicates a mental problem with the person that may not be able to be rehabilited in prison.

That's why this is more a 2nd degree murder+ case; the whole idea of running the guy over and dragging his bike for miles shows us that this person is a sick individual. The charge should have been 2nd degree murder + an additional penalty for being a sicko...
I say first degree all the way, thank the higher powers.Leisure
Dec 5, 2001 2:49 AM
I've been working at a psychiatric hospital for years; one of my better lessons from the experience is that mental illness and malice are completely different things. "Temporary insanity", as it is historically used in courts doesn't exist, and the legal system is becoming increasingly aware of that. (There is such a thing as acute psychosis, but it does not apply here.) Real mental illnesses are lifelong struggles, and the people that suffer from them are not "sickos" any more than you or I.
What has confused the matter is the inability of legal and psychiatric professionals to make the psychological distinction between what is mental illness and what is personality. I don't necessarily blame them; it's taken me a long time and I see these patients everyday. But now I've seen countless people suffering from the most severe kinds of psychosis, schizophrenia, mania, etc. who would never hurt a fly or make an excuse. I've also seen the criminals that have used the "temporary insanity" ploy to escape into the system. Once you know how to see through the game, there is nothing in common. Criminal behavior is not "sick", and being "sick" is not an excuse for criminal behavior. That's not to dog your opinion or anything; it's just that the legal system historically has handled the subject very poorly, and seems increasingly aware of it.
I completely agree with you on the weapon issue, though. I couldn't have said it better.
Thanks for the "temporary insanity" lessonkenyee
Dec 5, 2001 10:09 AM
I suspected as much (don't believe in "temporary insanity" either), but that's how the laws/penalties/pleas are written now. I'm glad he got more than the penalty for 2nd degree murder (though I don't agree w/ how the D.A. office got it).

By "sicko", I don't mean mentally sick, but I mean "losing the inhibitions/morals that allow them to function/behave in society". The degree of "sicko" behavior in how they committed a criminal act (to me) determines their level of "sickness" (i.e., whether they can be reintegrated into society after some punishment).

E.g., if someone shoots a security guard in an armed robbery, that person will get more prison time (because our society has the warped sense that the tool of a crims is important) than a person who did a "silence of the lambs" on someone. When both people get out of prison (and they will, but that's another long topic), who would you rather have next to you on the street? One was an act of desperation. The other was an act of a sicko. I think we both agree on this though.
re: But how long will he serve?Kristin
Dec 4, 2001 6:11 PM
I watched a news special on a road-rage trail in North Carolina (I think). Does anyone remember this case? A sweet, grandmotherly type lady shot another lady in the face (killing her) during a traffic altercation. At the trial, she claimed it was self defense, but the jury believed that she shot the woman in a moment of rage. If I recall correctly, she got life imprision with no paroll. If a jury in NC can put a grandmother in jail for life, then there's hope that Fitzpatrick could get a tough sentence too. People are becoming less tollerant of road rage everyday. The jury may not identify with the plight of a cyclist attacked by an SUV, but they may very well recall thier last incident with a crazed driver. Its becoming too commonplace in Chicago.

Personally, I've been chased twice. One man attempted to run me off the road after midnight (I fled at 100+MPH). Another man followed my car closely until I pulled onto the shoulder. Then he pulled in behind and sat there for ten mintues as I contacted 911. Another time, a man followed me after I honked at him. At a stoplight, he got out of his car and approached mine. Thankfully the light turned green. By the way, all of these incidents occurred AFTER I responded to a show of bad driving on their parts. If I had not reacted, I doubt either would have pursued my car. I try to control my reactions these days.
get this bookkenyee
Dec 4, 2001 8:41 PM
http://www.curtrich.com/drivetosurvive.html

It teaches you some basics of defensive driving (not just the avoiding accidents kind). I have a friend (a girl) who also had a weird incident with a guy following her. Hopefully, it'll get you interested enough to take a driving course or two.

BTW, don't get it if the G*n word freaks you out. Curt is ex-military and is a bit blunt about how the politicians/media are treating the public :-)
death penalty, hopefullynm
Dec 5, 2001 5:36 AM
nm
put him on a bikebn
Dec 5, 2001 8:01 AM
and run an SUV over him! Or better yet put him in his SUV and run a semi over him.
Hope he rots in prisonbike_junkie
Dec 4, 2001 5:56 PM
I was wondering how the trial finished up, I'm glad it went to guilty of 1st deg murder. That was a terrible thing to do and he deserves to rot in jail. Big man in a big SUV! Have fun in the slammer, Fitzpatrick.
Reporter finds the best words...
Dec 4, 2001 6:17 PM
The reporter covering the trail for CriticalMass found the true meaning of this:

"I hope he has some time to think about what he has done, turn his life
around, find a way to give his life some meaning, and, if he ever gets
released from prison, become a productive member of society. I hope
his children will be able to cope with the loss of their father. I hope
his conviction gives the McBride family some closure so that they can
move on. I hope that bicyclists will be able to get the respect that we
deserve on the roads. I hope that people everywhere will learn to
resolve their differences without anger, hatred, and violence."
anyone stopped to think *why* he did this?Dog
Dec 5, 2001 6:44 AM
I think we have cultural bias against auto drivers, particularly those in SUV's. To be fair, we need to stop to think about why this man felt the need to run down the cyclist. Years of propaganda from Critical Mass with street demonstrations specifically designed to anger drivers will have it's payback sooner or later. We cannot be arrogant enough to believe that some cyclists are not partially responsible for this. If we can better understand the drivers/non-cyclists, we might help to avoid this in the future.

Dog
I agree with most of what you say...Kristin
Dec 5, 2001 7:14 AM
...but not this. Murder in our country is not justifiable by any means. It sounds as if you are justifing Fitzpatricks actions here. I know that you're playing devils advocate, but I believe that people are responsible to their own emotions and reacations. Our laws are designed around this assumption, are they not?

I agree with your opinion of Critical Mass. I don't support it. Though I thinks its better in Chicago than in other parts. The majority of participants here seem to be people who ride bikes everyday, either for sport, work or commute. In any regard, can you really hold Critical Mass responsible for a murderers actions?

One can never go wrong for reflecting on how thier actions impact the world around them; but at the end of the day, we're all responsible for our own actions. Critical Mass is legal. In Chicago, its supported by public officals. The CritMass riders have not broken any laws. Fitzpatrick did. And non of us really know "why" he did it, as he still claims to have "not" done it.
Agree....Len J
Dec 5, 2001 7:15 AM
it seems like (from reading the trial log) the messanger got cut off by the driver, reacted angrily (Smacked hood of SUV, cursed) Driver got angry and in attempting to "Get even" inadvertently ran the guy over & then panicked. (I'm sure that rage caused him to be more agressive which resulted in the death). We've all been there, acting out of anger, normally things don't escalate to this point though. (Think about some of the "rage" expressed on this board, How much could escalate if posters were face to face?)

I am not trying to justify the death, just understand it & put it into the here and now.

I agree with you Doug that this shouldn't become a "WE" vs "THEM" issue, but should help each of us examine the only thing that we have any control over, Our own behavior.

Len
Inadvertantly?!?!?!?!rollo tommassi
Dec 5, 2001 8:15 AM
There was nothing inadvertant or accidental about this death. The driver changed lanes repeatedly to get a better shot at Thomas, and then drove away with the bike stuck underneath the vehicle. The driver then disposed of the bike in an alleyway. Part of the evidence that identified the driver was that his license plate was found on the body. He made several phone calls on his cell phone during this time period, none of which were to 911. This was not 'panic', this was cold, dispassionate behavior devoid of any sense of responsibility.
Maybe.....Len J
Dec 5, 2001 9:33 AM
You could be right. My reading is that this escalated into real rage. I agree that the actions of the driver directly led to the cyclist's death, and that he should be held responsible for the death, what I question was intent & judgement. I suspect that the driver "In the moment" wanted to scare & seriously hurt the cyclist, but I don't think that "in the moment" he wanted to kill him (or even thought that that might happen). When I used the word inadvertant, I was referring to the death itself, not the actions that led to the death.

I also agree that his actions after the event were self serving only. I don't agree they were dispassionate, I think he was paniced, scared & selfish.

My oponion

Len
yes - i agree w/you (nm)rollo tommassi
Dec 5, 2001 11:15 AM
nm :)
Hear, Hear!Carl T
Dec 5, 2001 7:16 AM
'Couldn't have said it better myself!
Amen Brother!Pack Meat
Dec 5, 2001 7:40 AM
This is a lesson for all of us. There is no justification for the driver's actions however we can never lose respect for the 2000+ lbs of metal that circulates among us. Don't provide them with the stimulus to pull the trigger of the loaded gun that they drive. You can't taunt somebody for to long before even the most reserved person will strike out, be it verbally or physically. We all look the same to non-cyclists so when you flip one of them off they may take it out on me.
I don't know if the verdict was correct, I can't imagine a normal guy, a family man, wanting to commit murder, harm maybe but kill, it's hard for me to understand. I don't think I read about a history of violence.
NoMJ
Dec 5, 2001 7:57 AM
a counter to that is that it is 'Us' vs 'Them' and 'they' are the enemy and whose side are you on? - to quote the very popular Bush - you're either with us (cyclists) or you're with them (the drivers) - the 'enemy' are those that don't show respect/courtesy to vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians

to say that a popular grassroots movement like Critical Mass, and those that support it are responsible is crazy talk - you worry about the right to bear arms (the right's Contiutional cause celebre) in a state militia - let Critical Mass worry about right to assembly/protest (the left's Constitutional cause celebre) - it's not the protest that kills people it's people that kill people (usually with guns - though in this case SUV's)

where would the US have been without other grassroots protests - lunch countersit ins/civil rights marches/etc. - were those protesters 'guilty' for the deaths of innocents which ocurred?

the convict felt the need to run down the cyclist because he was mad - when you get mad and run someone over intentionally you should go to jail for a long time

it's worth noting that if he had been drunk rather than angry this discussion wouldn't even be taking place - nor would it be taking place if he shot the guy - it's not right to link it to a lefty agenda to diminsh it - is it the possible results of protest that we need to understand or one person's loss of control that we need to understand? I do think you're right that we need to understand how someone can lose control in such a manner - in this case and in others that result in crime - poverty, drugs, poor prospects, alcohol, lack of support all come to mind for me - losing control is an issue - linking it to a valid protest about how public space is used is not an issue

the fact is is that drivers/non-cyclists do not take sufficient notice of other legal road users which often results in injury and sometimes death - intentional or not - that's what really needs to be better understood - and changed...
sorry, peopleDog
Dec 5, 2001 8:05 AM
My post, while it has some truth to it, was intended to mirror the sentiments of some following 9/11 ("understand the terrorists"...). I really don't want to get into that again, but I was intending to point out to some that potentially the same people who advocated "understanding" the terrorists were now demanding this guy's hide. Sorry that maybe it didn't come through.

That is not to say that we, as cyclists, should not constantly be vigilant to ride safely, politely, and reasonably. We darn well should.

Further, I agree that there is no excuse for what this guy did. The post mostly was to point out a bit of irony. Everyone must be held responsible for their actions, regardless of the motivating factor for the action.

Maybe the post was a bit inappropriate, but some of the reactions posted above just made me think about whether there might be a bit of hyprocrisy in the sentiments. Sorry.

Dog
thank, you,Dogrollo tommassi
Dec 5, 2001 8:38 AM
this issue always very heated! so there is always a 'misunderstanding' of written words. But, I believe all of us here feel the same way, and (hopefully) act the same way when on the street.

The hardest lesson I have had to learn over the past few years is not to react to drivers, either verbally or otherwise. I still can't "behave", and I know I'm wrong, but it's such a defense mechanism to stand your ground.
there's a big, big difference here....Starliner
Dec 5, 2001 9:37 AM
"Understanding" what is behind some event which took place is always important. Why Hitler rose to power and did what he did was important to evaluate, so as to prevent such a thing from happening again.

What happened on 9/11 has been happening for many years around the world on a smaller scale. These are complex, systematic, well-planned operations with a lot of people and a lot of money behind them. As well as a lot of moral support from masses of people among a culture we really don't fully understand.

In Chicago, you had one angry person acting on impulse taking out another person. No organization, no conspiracy, just anger out of control.

I'm not sure what point you were attempting to prove. What it seemed your post did do was to project your own views about the Critical Mass methodology onto this case.
Agreed - well said - nmMJ
Dec 5, 2001 9:41 AM
Your response and mentality deeply disturb me.Pack Meat
Dec 5, 2001 8:31 AM
To concentrate on an action with no thought of the stimulus to an action is ridiculous. Your analogy to this and terroism is moronic at best, I am a driver and a cyclist. There is no justification for the action that the driver took. There is no justification for the actions the terrorist took on 911. But by blindly choosing to ignore every stimulus and reason that both parties had in each case you are choosing to repeat it. I'll say it again, yu can not taunt somebody indefinitely and not expect them to eventually take action. Once they take action you certainly should not be surprised. Share the road.
Your response and mentality deeply disturb me.MJ
Dec 5, 2001 8:41 AM
I don't think that the victim had been taunting anyone indefinitely - and you can't blame Critical Mass for that either - we do have to share the road - but must also take action to ensure that others share it with us

I'm not linking this to terrorism - just Bush's simplistic approach which is my way of saying this isn't a car driver's forum - it's a cycling forum - I though we had shared principles about how public space is used and controlled
Simplistic approach from a simple man.Pack Meat
Dec 5, 2001 8:57 AM
I am not going to convince you that CritMass is stupid and should not be undertaken or supported by any cyclist. And yes we do have shared principles about how public space is used however much like puncuation some people feel that those principals do not apply to them. Thanks for my new tag line that you have inspired.

Share the Road.
PM
Simplistic approach from a simple man.MJ
Dec 5, 2001 9:40 AM
I'm not totally convinced about Critical Mass - but am certain that it shouldn't be held accountable or even linked to someone's murder - I think it may be one way forward - others are cycling infratsructure (lanes etc.) another is a change of statutory liability - in the Netherlands an auto driver is considered to be 50% at fault in any accident with a cyclist or pedestrian - only after this starting point is further liability assessed - that would make people think twice

people who don't have shared principles on how public space is used are car drivers not cyclists - the law doesn't back them up in most places just their homicidal capacity

why are you calling me simple? that's not very nice
Actually I was refering to your statement from Bush.Pack Meat
Dec 5, 2001 9:47 AM
Bush is a simple person.
yes he isMJ
Dec 5, 2001 9:54 AM
I thought the simple approach was warranted in light of other responses
SUVs?filtersweep
Dec 5, 2001 8:13 AM
I agree that critical mass rides do ONE thing- seriously annoy drivers- ingredients: Friday rush hour, pick the busiest street, take up entire street at a snails pace... use a police escort so no one gets killed! They ride by my place once a month... I forget about it until I hear all the HONKING of enraged riders... and these are mostly as my "old" friend calls "urban Amish"- (people who wear lots of black and don't own cars) or other relatively marginalized sorts (vs. roadbikers).

I get annoyed at the sort who commutes down a narrow busy street, then proceeds to pass me on the right at every light that I'm stopped at, runs lights, etc... so I have to pass him or her MANY times in the course of a short drive (I take less care to pass each time).

The point that I take issue with your post is that during my car commute to work, if a driver of another car does something particularly offensive, I am not frustrated with ALL drivers, just the one in question. I realize cyclists are a relative minority, and as such may be targeted with the attitude that "I hate all cyclists"- but I'd like to think people still respond to the world on a case by case basis.

I STILL maintain that very little is done to inform the public of cyclists' rights on the road- whether through PSAs, driver's ed, driving exams, etc...

On the flip side, it wouldn't be such a bad idea if cyclists were ticketed by police for offensive riding- especially running lights (I think that is what annoys drivers the most).

There is no alternative for road riding- riding on MUVs is usually WORSE than the roads (unleashed dogs, stoopid kids on skateboards with headphones, MTN bikes riding 2 or 3 abreast, people stopped in the middle of the trail, broken glass from smashed bottles by bridges, etc...).
SUVs?MJ
Dec 5, 2001 8:36 AM
if we ticket all the cyclists that break the law and 'upset' drivers (poor things) then we should be sure to ticket all the cars that break the law - the biggest difference between these two groups of road users is that when a car breaks the law someone may get seriously injured or worse - if a cyclist jumps a red light the only person he's likely to endanger is himself...

when car drivers ask me if I'm one of those guys that's always running red lights I ask them if they're the ones who never check their mirrors, turn in front me, cut me off, pass to close and door me

and as for 'marginals' and non-roadies being part of critical mass and on the road - anybody self powered on two wheels is a friend of mine - and should be of yours - that's why they call it Critical Mass - when drivers see a certain minimum number of cyclists per hours they change how they drive and the road becomes statistically safer for all

geeze having to pass cyclists more than once can't be that bad and you should be ashamed if you're not giving him/her the proper attention they deserve and are (legally) entitled to - think about that next time you're out riding - maybe it's not legal to white line where you live but is it really that big of a deal? - if you're getting passed by a cyclist that much it sounds like you're stuck in slow moving traffic so get over it the cyclist ain't the one holding you up - it's everybody in the metal coffins insluated from the world thinking that they alone have the right of way

I agree that it is the individual
Actually, everyone has to be ticketed evenlykenyee
Dec 5, 2001 10:23 AM
I've posted this before. This includes pedestrians who jay walk and cross in front of cars when the cars have a green light (that's what the Walk button is for, no?).

Cars are already ticketed for breaking laws, including running stop signs, stop lights, etc. I never see cyclists get ticketed for doing this even though they should be considered vehicles. Nor do I see pedestrians get ticketed.

Why ticket evenly? Because the unticketed ones (drivers, cyclists, or pedestrians) will learn that they can "do what they want". They'll endanger themselves, cause accidents, etc. They'll inspire jealousy from the punished class of people (drivers, cyclists, or pedestrians). Road rage will ensue. Etc.
agreedMJ
Dec 6, 2001 1:44 AM
my only point is that other than jealousy - a pedestrian or cyclists breaking of the law rarely has such severe consequences as a drivers - doesn;t make it right - but people can't justify anything about all cyclists following this same tired point - certainly not running some guy over (which I know you didn't mention)
pedestrians/cyclists don't always do direct damagekenyee
Dec 6, 2001 7:03 AM
Probably not what you wanted to hear, but if say, someone jaywalking runs into traffic causes a driver to swerve and hit another driver or run another pedestrian over, does the jaywalker have any fault?

If a jaywalking pedestrian is killed by a driver, the driver will most likely be arrested, and hauled into jail, put on trial, lose income, etc., but does the jaywalker have any fault? (yes, I know, the jaywalker's family will be miserable as well)

If a bike messenger (I know, I'm stereotyping, sorry) runs a red light, causes a driver to hit his brakes, then the driver behind him crashes into him and causes the driver to get whiplash, does the biker have fault?

As for direct damage, two months ago, my 70 yr old dad was hit by a cyclist going the wrong way. He complains his leg hurts again (it took three years to heal and finally felt better this summer). Yep, not death causing, but it's still damage and a result of basic physics.

For drivers, their primary worry, as with anyone who operates a potentially dangerous tool, is not to get into an accident because of lawsuits, jail time, tickets, higher insurance, etc. I know for some people it doesn't work (like these road ragers, or people who put makeup on while driving, or use the cell phone while driving, or drink coffee/eat), but these concerns probably don't even enter the minds of pedestrians or cyclists. Pedestrians/cyclists should worry about getting into accidents and spending painful time in a hospital, but most don't do that either (at least the younger ones don't and even the old ones in Boston don't any more).
pedestrians/cyclists don't always do direct damageMJ
Dec 6, 2001 8:12 AM
agreed cyclists need to pay attention, follow the law and can cause harm in some cases - but these discussions always focus on how bad cyclists are and ignore the main (immediate and serious) problem of drivers and cars - while the examples you gave about real and potential accidents are noteable - the majority of accidents involving cyclists are about the cyclist coming out on the losing end - whether through their own fault, no one's fault or the cars fault

sympathy for your Dad - my wife almost got hit by a cyclist crossing the street on a crosswalk about two months ago - the guy actually yelled at her too!! - she came home and was pissed off (tangentially) with me because I'm a cyclist too - BTW I posted here a few months ago about a pedestrian that stepped out in front of me without looking (happens at least once a day on my route - I shout alot now) which resulted in a crash - so I know that 'soft' road users do sometimes cause accidents

everyone needs to pay attention and do the right thing - but the focus needs to be less on those naughty cyclists running red lights/going the wrong way up a one way/etc. and more on drivers making unknowing attempts on cyclists' lives every day they're in the car

BTW - have you voted yet? - www.brian-coleman.org.uk
Everyone does need to do the right thingkenyee
Dec 6, 2001 1:25 PM
I remember your post about your wife; hope she forgave you for being a cyclist eventually. The guy yelled at my dad to warn him out of the way as well (little did he know, my dad is mostly deaf even w/ his hearing aid)-:

Everyone just needs to be more considerate and aware of others nowadays. It feels like we're in the minority in saying this, unfortunately. We have to get politicans/media to brainwash people into this. I sure wish I knew how.

I just voted against Mr. Coleman. I'm surprised your legislature listens to you. Here, the public voted on a ballot to lower the income tax and to have campaign finance reform; the legislature killed one of those laws by not funding it in the budget and is trying to kill off the other one. We don't have govt "for the people" any more...
they're not listeningMJ
Dec 7, 2001 1:42 AM
at least not Coleman - so a little direct action politicing was in order - I've sent some letters to the press with the link in the hope that they'll print it up - but it's a bit small time/'marginal' :-)

the guy could have given me the supreme brush off rather than antagonising - I gues he's not very skilled in his line of work!!

glad you voted
missing the pointfiltersweep
Dec 5, 2001 10:51 AM
no- for a cyclist to expect a motorist to respect their lane a cyclist cannot selectively split the lane and run the light when it conveniences him or her- it is all or none- if traffic stops, the cyclist *should* stop where he is in the line of traffic, not ride between stopped traffic and parked cars to the "front of the line"- it annoys everyone... ever been a passenger with another driver while this happens?

I agree cars should also be ticketed-

My only point with "marginalized" critical mass riders is that it only reinforces negative stereotypes about cyclists, and the timing of crit mass rides is more about annoying car drivers and proving a point rather than raising the level of POSITIVE awareness about cyclists and cycling laws... you are seriously deluded if you believe critical mass holds noble intentions- the "cars are coffins" crew is generally more anti-automobile than a friend of mine- hey, but it is a free world and it is their right... if critical masses were held by roadies on a road that actually was used for roadbiking, I might have a different attitude- but in this city, it is a very urban phenomenon....
missing the pointMJ
Dec 6, 2001 1:41 AM
you're right - Critical Mass is an urban phenom - I bet it wouldn't play well in the suburbs with soccer moms et al - like I said above I'm not totally convinced about Critical Mass but do recognise it as a legitimate (perhaps not effective) protest - it seems to be just the thing though for densely populated urban centres (like where I live in London) - it does raise awareness

also - there are plenty of places where whitelining is legal - here in the UK and I think in California too - drivers should get over getting passed - why is it such a problem? - why is it so annoying? - yes I have driven when motorcycles and bikes white line past me - and good on them!!

I don't think running red lights is the way forward (or breaking other traffic laws willy nilly) - but everyone seems to focus on bike misbehaviour which has no consequences (other than to upset)to others rather than car misbehabviour which has life threatening consequences

I don't know if a roadie crew in full regalia (riding really slowly) would be received better than the goths and anarchists who come along for Critical Mass - it would probably give everybody quote a good chuckle rather than the Marilyn Manson reactions that Critical Mass gets :-)
bikes and road rulesohio
Dec 5, 2001 1:09 PM
When I initially started bicycle commuting I was absolutley of the mindset that when I was on the pedals I was a road vehicle and had to obey the same rules as any car or truck. If I wanted to use a crosswalk or jaywalk, etc. I would get off the bike and walk it. I did this to avoid confusing drivers, who get particularly upset at unpredictable riders (swerving on and off curbs, or across traffic, etc.). I also never passed on the right or ran red lights. I signalled extensively for every turn (which kept one hand off the brakes extensively...)

I ride differently now, because what I thought was "defensive" turned out not to be. I take every opportunity I can to ride out of traffic, or with non-moving traffic. This means if there's no cars coming, I run a red light because it means I have that much more time to pedal while not surrounded by cars. When cars are lined up at a light, I pass them on the right, because there's less danger of them switching lanes or pinching me into parked cars. Traffic cops here in Boston regularly wave cyclists across with the pedestrians. On the one hand this confuses and angers some drivers. On the other, I think they recognize that bikes pose a danger only to themselves and pedestrians, and the more they're out of traffic (but still on the road, not the sidewalk) the safer everyone is. I also signal long enough to make sure the driver behind me knows my intent, but no longer than that. I consider myself courteous and alert, but I get honked and yelled at anyway. I actually had an old lady (70+) lean at her passenger window and yell some stuff at me that would make a hooker blush, because I turned around and pointed my bike at the road (feet still on the ground) when leaving a trailhead, while as she was trying to make a left hand turn onto the same road - If a actually intended to enter the roadway, I actually had right of way since I was making a right turn and she a left.

The point is until drivers are more educated about the rules of the road, cyclists have to resort to not-quite-legal behavior, but they should be conscientious about it, not indignant. And everyone is this country could use a little more patience, a little less overtime, and a nice long vacation.
AGREE - great points - nmMJ
Dec 6, 2001 1:45 AM
anyone stopped to think *why* he did this?longfellow68
Dec 5, 2001 8:27 AM
I'll give you the reason why he did this.

A white guy called him a stupid MF, so he killed him.

Thats basically it. I don't think it had nothing to do with bikes.
anyone stopped to think *why* he did this?guido
Dec 5, 2001 12:23 PM
Yes, and this black man got a first degree murder conviction. A white man would have gotten 2nd degree, or down here in East Texas, manslaughter.

But that's another problem.
yeah right...bike_junkie
Dec 5, 2001 6:29 PM
The white man has it easy, and boo hoo for you if you're black. Nice to hear the flaming liberals chime in with their drivel... Try checking in with the real world sometime, where minorities are keeping their jobs and whites
being laid off - and it's not a performance issue. It's called affirmative action, and it's a sad reality of corporate America. You probably think that's a great thing, eh?
Wait a minute! The driver is not a victimmr_spin
Dec 5, 2001 8:30 AM
I totally agree with you that Critical Mass type events do more harm than good. And it is absolutely true that there are many cyclists out there who just don't give a damn about pissing off drivers.

But let's focus on the real victim here. The cyclist didn't ask to be run over and dragged along the street. What's shocking is the reckless disregard and total lack of human decency. This wasn't an accident--it was intentional. And it doesn't matter at all what the guy in the SUV was thinking.

To see my point, replace the word "driver" in your post with "Islamic extremist" and "cyclist" with "people in the World Trade Center."

There is no possible rationalization for intentionally chasing down and running over a cyclist. Perhaps if Osama bin Laden is on the bike, we'd all look the other way, but it's still wrong.
Ridiculous logicStarliner
Dec 5, 2001 8:40 AM
To suggest that some cyclists should bear any responsibility for what the driver did is absurd. With that logic, we might as well declare open season on lawyers and politicians because of the slimy and crooked things some have done.
I agreepmf1
Dec 5, 2001 9:17 AM
Its their road too. Here in DC, bike messengers do all kinds of ridiculous things. Barrell down sidewalk, down one-way roads the wrong way, through stoplights, weave through traffic ... And if anyone yells at them they'll tell them to fug off. They really give cyclist a bad name. Cabbies here seem to have a desire to run people on a bike over. Same with critical mass demonstrations. I cannot see what those things solve. Plug up the roads and cause a huge traffic jam, yeah, that's a way to make a real positive statement about cycling.

In times when people shoot at one another from their cars (this has happened here), we need to more careful than ever to be courteous and obey the rules. If nothing else, for our own safety. If someone in a car gives me the right of way (even if it is mine), I always wave and say thanks.

Was this guy justified for running the cyclist over? Of course not. Could it happen to you if you take the attitude that you own the road? Of course. Car vs. cyclist. Cyclist loses every time.
DC cab driversDuane Gran
Dec 5, 2001 9:40 AM
I agree with your points, however I personally have found cab drivers to be observant drivers when I'm on the city streets of DC. The people I worry about most are the suburbanites and tourists driving in the city. Neither seem used to sharing the road with cyclists, but cab drivers seem to be seasoned and give me ample room. I even notice them being mindful of turning into my lane. I'm sure there are exceptions.
DC cab driverspmf1
Dec 5, 2001 12:04 PM
I must just be lucky. All the DC cabbies I run into aren't too concerned about my safety.

God, I wish I had the day off ... its 73 degrees out.

Wasn't Saturday a treat? I rode to the end of the W&OD wearing just shorts and a jersey. It felt like late April.
First Degree Murder is the top banana...DINOSAUR
Dec 5, 2001 8:29 AM
The D.A.'s Office should be commended for charging a road rage incident with 1st degree murder. I'm not familar with the case but usually there has to be a lot of evidence combined with tons of investigative work by the police agency who handled the case and the D.A.'s office. 1st Degree Murder is the top banana as the D.A. had to prove intent. I'm only familar with a couple of traffic accidents that have been prosecuted as murder cases.

The sentence will depend on a lot of factors. Illinois state law, the defendants criminal record and the nature of the crime. It might be all set in black ink and the sentencing judge will have no choice but to follow guidelines.

The guys life is over, hard to deal with a lst Degree Murder conviction on your record. Doing time in state prison will be no walk in the park.

As for myself the next time I nearly get clipped by a passing motorist (which I believe has to be intentional on some occasions) I'll try to avoid flipping the person off, which is not a wise thing to do. There are a lot or mentally unbalanced persons driving four wheels lethal weapons on the road.

There can be no excuse for what the guy did and justice will prevail in this case...
Illinois penalties for 1st degree murderDog
Dec 5, 2001 9:11 AM
§ 720 ILCS 5/9-1. First degree Murder -- Death penalties -- Exceptions -- Separate Hearings -- Proof -- Findings -- Appellate procedures -- Reversals

Sec. 9-1. First degree Murder -- Death penalties -- Exceptions -- Separate Hearings -- Proof -- Findings -- Appellate procedures -- Reversals. (a) A person who kills an individual without lawful justification commits first degree murder if, in performing the acts which cause the death:

(1) he either intends to kill or do great bodily harm to that individual or another, or knows that such acts will cause death to that individual or another; or

(2) he knows that such acts create a strong probability of death or great bodily harm to that individual or another; or

(3) he is attempting or committing a forcible felony other than second degree murder.

(b) Aggravating Factors. A defendant who at the time of the commission of the offense has attained the age of 18 or more and who has been found guilty of first degree murder may be sentenced to death if:

(1) the murdered individual was a peace officer or fireman killed in the course of performing his official duties, to prevent the performance of his official duties, or in retaliation for performing his official duties, and the defendant knew or should have known that the murdered individual was a peace officer or fireman; or

(2) the murdered individual was an employee of an institution or facility of the Department of Corrections, or any similar local correctional agency, killed in the course of performing his official duties, to prevent the performance of his official duties, or in retaliation for performing his official duties, or the murdered individual was an inmate at such institution or facility and was killed on the grounds thereof, or the murdered individual was otherwise present in such institution or facility with the knowledge and approval of the chief administrative officer thereof; or

(3) the defendant has been convicted of murdering two or more individuals under subsection (a) of this Section or under any law of the United States or of any state which is substantially similar to subsection (a) of this Section regardless of whether the deaths occurred as the result of the same act or of several related or unrelated acts so long as the deaths were the result of either an intent to kill more than one person or of separate acts which the defendant knew would cause death or create a strong probability of death or great bodily harm to the murdered individual or another; or

(4) the murdered individual was killed as a result of the hijacking of an airplane, train, ship, bus or other public conveyance; or

(5) the defendant committed the murder pursuant to a contract, agreement or understanding by which he was to receive money or anything of value in return for committing the murder or procured another to commit the murder for money or anything of value; or

(6) the murdered individual was killed in the course of another felony if:

(a) the murdered individual:

(i) was actually killed by the defendant, or

(ii) received physical injuries personally inflicted by the defendant substantially contemporaneously with physical injuries caused by one or more persons for whose conduct the defendant is legally accountable under Section 5-2 of this Code [720 ILCS 5/5-2], and the physical injuries inflicted by either the defendant or the other person or persons for whose conduct he is legally accountable caused the death of the murdered individual; and

(b) in performing the acts which caused the death of the murdered individual or which resulted in physical injuries personally inflicted by the defendant on the murdered individual under the circumstances of subdivision (ii) of subparagraph (a) of paragraph (6) of subsection (b) of this Section, the defendant acted with the intent to kill the murdered individual or with the knowledge that his acts created a strong probability of death or great bodily harm to the murdered individual or another; and

(c) the other felony was one of the following: armed robbery, armed violence, robbery, predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, aggravated criminal sexual assault, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated vehicular hijacking, forcible detention, arson, aggravated arson, aggravated stalking, burglary, residential burglary, home invasion, calculated criminal drug conspiracy as defined in Section 405 of the Illinois Controlled Substances Act [720 ILCS 570/405], streetgang criminal drug conspiracy as defined in Section 405.2 of the Illinois Controlled Substances Act [720 ILCS 570/405.2], or the attempt to commit any of the felonies listed in this subsection (c); or

(7) the murdered individual was under 12 years of age and the death resulted from exceptionally brutal or heinous behavior indicative of wanton cruelty; or

(8) the defendant committed the murder with intent to prevent the murdered individual from testifying in any criminal prosecution or giving material assistance to the State in any investigation or prosecution, either against the defendant or another; or the defendant committed the murder because the murdered individual was a witness in any prosecution or gave material assistance to the State in any investigation or prosecution, either against the defendant or another; or

(9) the defendant, while committing an offense punishable under Sections 401, 401.1, 401.2, 405, 405.2, 407 or 407.1 or subsection (b) of Section 404 of the Illinois Controlled Substances Act [720 ILCS 570/401, 720 ILCS 570/401.1, 720 ILCS 570/401.2, 720 ILCS 570/405, 720 ILCS 570/405.2, 720 ILCS 570/407 or 720 ILCS 570/407.1 or 720 ILCS 570/404], or while engaged in a conspiracy or solicitation to commit such offense, intentionally killed an individual or counseled, commanded, induced, procured or caused the intentional killing of the murdered individual; or

(10) the defendant was incarcerated in an institution or facility of the Department of Corrections at the time of the murder, and while committing an offense punishable as a felony under Illinois law, or while engaged in a conspiracy or solicitation to commit such offense, intentionally killed an individual or counseled, commanded, induced, procured or caused the intentional killing of the murdered individual; or

(11) the murder was committed in a cold, calculated and premeditated manner pursuant to a preconceived plan, scheme or design to take a human life by unlawful means, and the conduct of the defendant created a reasonable expectation that the death of a human being would result therefrom; or

(12) the murdered individual was an emergency medical technician - ambulance, emergency medical technician - intermediate, emergency medical technician - paramedic, ambulance driver, or other medical assistance or first aid personnel, employed by a municipality or other governmental unit, killed in the course of performing his official duties, to prevent the performance of his official duties, or in retaliation for performing his official duties, and the defendant knew or should have known that the murdered individual was an emergency medical technician - ambulance, emergency medical technician - intermediate, emergency medical technician - paramedic, ambulance driver, or other medical assistance or first aid personnel; or

(13) the defendant was a principal administrator, organizer, or leader of a calculated criminal drug conspiracy consisting of a hierarchical position of authority superior to that of all other members of the conspiracy, and the defendant counseled, commanded, induced, procured, or caused the intentional killing of the murdered person; or

(14) the murder was intentional and involved the infliction of torture. For the purpose of this Section torture means the infliction of or subjection to extreme physical pain, motivated by an intent to increase or prolong the pain, suffering or agony of the victim; or

(15) the murder was committed as a result of the intentional discharge of a firearm by the defendant from a motor vehicle and the victim was not present within the motor vehicle; or

(16) the murdered individual was 60 years of age or older and the death resulted from exceptionally brutal or heinous behavior indicative of wanton cruelty; or

(17) the murdered individual was a disabled person and the defendant knew or should have known that the murdered individual was disabled. For purposes of this paragraph (17), "disabled person" means a person who suffers from a permanent physical or mental impairment resulting from disease, an injury, a functional disorder, or a congenital condition that renders the person incapable of adequately providing for his or her own health or personal care; or

(18) the murder was committed by reason of any person's activity as a community policing volunteer or to prevent any person from engaging in activity as a community policing volunteer; or

(19) the murdered individual was subject to an order of protection and the murder was committed by a person against whom the same order of protection was issued under the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986 [750 ILCS 60/101 et seq.]; or

(20) the murdered individual was known by the defendant to be a teacher or other person employed in any school and the teacher or other employee is upon the grounds of a school or grounds adjacent to a school, or is in any part of a building used for school purposes.

(c) Consideration of factors in Aggravation and Mitigation.

The court shall consider, or shall instruct the jury to consider any aggravating and any mitigating factors which are relevant to the imposition of the death penalty. Aggravating factors may include but need not be limited to those factors set forth in subsection (b). Mitigating factors may include but need not be limited to the following:

(1) the defendant has no significant history of prior criminal activity;

(2) the murder was committed while the defendant was under the influence of extreme mental or emotional disturbance, although not such as to constitute a defense to prosecution;

(3) the murdered individual was a participant in the defendant's homicidal conduct or consented to the homicidal act;

(4) the defendant acted under the compulsion of threat or menace of the imminent infliction of death or great bodily harm;

(5) the defendant was not personally present during commission of the act or acts causing death.

(d) Separate sentencing hearing.

Where requested by the State, the court shall conduct a separate sentencing proceeding to determine the existence of factors set forth in subsection (b) and to consider any aggravating or mitigating factors as indicated in subsection (c). The proceeding shall be conducted:

(1) before the jury that determined the defendant's guilt; or

(2) before a jury impanelled for the purpose of the proceeding if:

A. the defendant was convicted upon a plea of guilty; or

B. the defendant was convicted after a trial before the court sitting without a jury; or

C. the court for good cause shown discharges the jury that determined the defendant's guilt; or

(3) before the court alone if the defendant waives a jury for the separate proceeding.

(e) Evidence and Argument.

During the proceeding any information relevant to any of the factors set forth in subsection (b) may be presented by either the State or the defendant under the rules governing the admission of evidence at criminal trials. Any information relevant to any additional aggravating factors or any mitigating factors indicated in subsection (c) may be presented by the State or defendant regardless of its admissibility under the rules governing the admission of evidence at criminal trials. The State and the defendant shall be given fair opportunity to rebut any information received at the hearing.

(f) Proof.

The burden of proof of establishing the existence of any of the factors set forth in subsection (b) is on the State and shall not be satisfied unless established beyond a reasonable doubt.

(g) Procedure - Jury.

If at the separate sentencing proceeding the jury finds that none of the factors set forth in subsection (b) exists, the court shall sentence the defendant to a term of imprisonment under Chapter V of the Unified Code of Corrections [730 ILCS 5/5-1-1 et seq.]. If there is a unanimous finding by the jury that one or more of the factors set forth in subsection (b) exist, the jury shall consider aggravating and mitigating factors as instructed by the court and shall determine whether the sentence of death shall be imposed. If the jury determines unanimously that there are no mitigating factors sufficient to preclude the imposition of the death sentence, the court shall sentence the defendant to death.

Unless the jury unanimously finds that there are no mitigating factors sufficient to preclude the imposition of the death sentence the court shall sentence the defendant to a term of imprisonment under Chapter V of the Unified Code of Corrections [730 ILCS 5/5-1-1 et seq.].

(h) Procedure - No Jury.

In a proceeding before the court alone, if the court finds that none of the factors found in subsection (b) exists, the court shall sentence the defendant to a term of imprisonment under Chapter V of the Unified Code of Corrections [730 ILCS 5/5-1-1 et seq.].

If the Court determines that one or more of the factors set forth in subsection (b) exists, the Court shall consider any aggravating and mitigating factors as indicated in subsection (c). If the Court determines that there are no mitigating factors sufficient to preclude the imposition of the death sentence, the Court shall sentence the defendant to death.

Unless the court finds that there are no mitigating factors sufficient to preclude the imposition of the sentence of death, the court shall sentence the defendant to a term of imprisonment under Chapter V of the Unified Code of Corrections [730 ILCS 5/5-1-1 et seq.].

(i) Appellate Procedure.

The conviction and sentence of death shall be subject to automatic review by the Supreme Court. Such review shall be in accordance with rules promulgated by the Supreme Court.

(j) Disposition of reversed death sentence.

In the event that the death penalty in this Act is held to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States or of the State of Illinois, any person convicted of first degree murder shall be sentenced by the court to a term of imprisonment under Chapter V of the Unified Code of Corrections [730 ILCS 5/5-1-1 et seq.].

In the event that any death sentence pursuant to the sentencing provisions of this Section is declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States or of the State of Illinois, the court having jurisdiction over a person previously sentenced to death shall cause the defendant to be brought before the court, and the court shall sentence the defendant to a term of imprisonment under Chapter V of the Unified Code of Corrections [730 ILCS 5/5-1-1 et seq.].

Sentencing:

§ 730 ILCS 5/5-5-3. Disposition

Sec. 5-5-3. Disposition. (a) Every person convicted of an offense shall be sentenced as provided in this Section.

(b) The following options shall be appropriate dispositions, alone or in combination, for all felonies and misdemeanors other than those identified in subsection (c) of this Section:

(1) A period of probation.

(2) A term of periodic imprisonment.

(3) A term of conditional discharge.

(4) A term of imprisonment.

(5) An order directing the offender to clean up and repair the damage, if the offender was convicted under paragraph (h) of Section 21-1 of the Criminal Code of 1961 [720 ILCS 5/21-1].

(6) A fine.

(7) An order directing the offender to make restitution to the victim under Section 5-5-6 of this Code [730 ILCS 5/5-5-6].

(8) A sentence of participation in a county impact incarceration program under Section 5-8-1.2 of this Code [730 ILCS 5/5-8-1.2].

Whenever an individual is sentenced for an offense based upon an arrest for a violation of Section 11-501 of the Illinois Vehicle Code [625 ILCS 5/11-501], or a similar provision of a local ordinance, and the professional evaluation recommends remedial or rehabilitative treatment or education, neither the treatment nor the education shall be the sole disposition and either or both may be imposed only in conjunction with another disposition. The court shall monitor compliance with any remedial education or treatment recommendations contained in the professional evaluation. Programs conducting alcohol or other drug evaluation or remedial education must be licensed by the Department of Human Services. However, if the individual is not a resident of Illinois, the court may accept an alcohol or other drug evaluation or remedial education program in the state of such individual's residence. Programs providing treatment must be licensed under existing applicable alcoholism and drug treatment licensure standards.

In addition to any other fine or penalty required by law, any individual convicted of a violation of Section 11-501 of the Illinois Vehicle Code [625 ILCS 5/11-501] or a similar provision of local ordinance, whose operation of a motor vehicle while in violation of Section 11-501 [625 ILCS 5/11-501] or such ordinance proximately caused an incident resulting in an appropriate emergency response, shall be required to make restitution to a public agency for the costs of that emergency response. Such restitution shall not exceed $500 per public agency for each such emergency response. For the purpose of this paragraph, emergency response shall mean any incident requiring a response by: a police officer as defined under Section 1-162 of the Illinois Vehicle Code [625 ILCS 5/1-162]; a fireman carried on the rolls of a regularly constituted fire department; and an ambulance as defined under Section 4.05 of the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Systems Act [repealed].

Neither a fine nor restitution shall be the sole disposition for a felony and either or both may be imposed only in conjunction with another disposition.

(c)(1) When a defendant is found guilty of first degree murder the State may either seek a sentence of imprisonment under Section 5-8-1 of this Code [730 ILCS 5/5-8-1], or where appropriate seek a sentence of death under Section 9-1 of the Criminal Code of 1961 [720 ILCS 5/9-1].

(2) A period of probation, a term of periodic imprisonment or conditional discharge shall not be imposed for the following offenses. The court shall sentence the offender to not less than the minimum term of imprisonment set forth in this Code for the following offenses, and may order a fine or restitution or both in conjunction with such term of imprisonment:

(A) First degree murder where the death penalty is not imposed.

(B) Attempted first degree murder.

(C) A Class X felony.

(D) A violation of Section 401.1 or 407 of the Illinois Controlled Substances Act [720 ILCS 570/401.1 or 720 ILCS 570/407], or a violation of subdivision (c)(2) of Section 401 of that Act [720 ILCS 570/401] which relates to more than 5 grams of a substance containing cocaine or an analog thereof.

(E) A violation of Section 5.1 or 9 of the Cannabis Control Act [720 ILCS 550/5.1 or 720 ILCS 550/9].

(F) A Class 2 or greater felony if the offender had been convicted of
Illinois penalties for 1st degree murder - moreDog
Dec 5, 2001 9:15 AM
§ 730 ILCS 5/5-8-1. Sentence of Imprisonment for Felony

Sec. 5-8-1. Sentence of Imprisonment for Felony. (a) Except as otherwise provided in the statute defining the offense, a sentence of imprisonment for a felony shall be a determinate sentence set by the court under this Section, according to the following limitations:

(1) for first degree murder,

(a) a term shall be not less than 20 years and not more than 60 years, or

(b) (As amended by P.A. 91-953, effective February 23, 2001) if a trier of fact finds beyond a reasonable doubt that the murder was accompanied by exceptionally brutal or heinous behavior indicative of wanton cruelty or, except as set forth in subsection (a)(1)(c) of this Section, that any of the aggravating factors listed in subsection (b) of Section 9-1 of the Criminal Code of 1961 [720 ILCS 5/9-1] are present, the court may sentence the defendant to a term of natural life imprisonment, or

(b) (As amended by P.A. 92-16, effective June 28, 2001) if the court finds that the murder was accompanied by exceptionally brutal or heinous behavior indicative of wanton cruelty or, except as set forth in subsection (a)(1)(c) of this Section, that any of the aggravating factors listed in subsection (b) of Section 9-1 of the Criminal Code of 1961 [720 ILCS 5/9-1] are present, the court may sentence the defendant to a term of natural life imprisonment, or

(c) the court shall sentence the defendant to a term of natural life imprisonment when the death penalty is not imposed if the defendant,


(i) has previously been convicted of first degree murder under any state or federal law, or

(ii) is a person who, at the time of the commission of the murder, had attained the age of 17 or more and is found guilty of murdering an individual under 12 years of age; or, irrespective of the defendant's age at the time of the commission of the offense, is found guilty of murdering more than one victim, or

(iii) is found guilty of murdering a peace officer or fireman when the peace officer or fireman was killed in the course of performing his official duties, or to prevent the peace officer or fireman from performing his official duties, or in retaliation for the peace officer or fireman performing his official duties, and the defendant knew or should have known that the murdered individual was a peace officer or fireman, or

(iv) is found guilty of murdering an employee of an institution or facility of the Department of Corrections, or any similar local correctional agency, when the employee was killed in the course of performing his official duties, or to prevent the employee from performing his official duties, or in retaliation for the employee performing his official duties, or

(v) is found guilty of murdering an emergency medical technician -- ambulance, emergency medical technician -- intermediate, emergency medical technician -- paramedic, ambulance driver or other medical assistance or first aid person while employed by a municipality or other governmental unit when the person was killed in the course of performing official duties or to prevent the person from performing official duties or in retaliation for performing official duties and the defendant knew or should have known that the murdered individual was an emergency medical technician -- ambulance, emergency medical technician -- intermediate, emergency medical technician -- paramedic, ambulance driver, or other medical assistant or first aid personnel, or

(vi) is a person who, at the time of the commission of the murder, had not attained the age of 17, and is found guilty of murdering a person under 12 years of age and the murder is committed during the course of aggravated criminal sexual assault, criminal sexual assault, or aggravated kidnaping, or

(vii) is found guilty of first degree murder and the murder was committed by reason of any person's activity as a community policing volunteer or to prevent any person from engaging in activity as a community policing volunteer. For the purpose of this Section, "community policing volunteer" has the meaning ascribed to it in Section 2-3.5 of the Criminal Code of 1961 [720 ILCS 5/2-3.5].

For purposes of clause (v), "emergency medical technician -- ambulance", "emergency medical technician -- intermediate", "emergency medical technician -- paramedic", have the meanings ascribed to them in the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Systems Act [210 ILCS 50/1 et seq.].

(d)(i) if the person committed the offense while armed with a firearm, 15 years shall be added to the term of imprisonment imposed by the court;

(ii) if, during the commission of the offense, the person personally discharged a firearm, 20 years shall be added to the term of imprisonment imposed by the court;

(iii) if, during the commission of the offense, the person personally discharged a firearm that proximately caused great bodily harm, permanent disability, permanent disfigurement, or death to another person, 25 years or up to a term of natural life shall be added to the term of imprisonment imposed by the court.

(1.5) for second degree murder, a term shall be not less than 4 years and not more than 20 years;

(2) for a person adjudged a habitual criminal under Article 33B of the Criminal Code of 1961, as amended [720 ILCS 5/33B-1 et seq.], the sentence shall be a term of natural life imprisonment;

(2.5) for a person convicted under the circumstances described in paragraph (3) of subsection (b) of Section 12-13 [720 ILCS 5/12-13], paragraph (2) of subsection (d) of Section 12-14 [720 ILCS 5/12-14], paragraph (1.2) of subsection (b) of Section 12-14.1 [720 ILCS 5/12-14.1], or paragraph (2) of subsection (b) of Section 12-14.1 of the Criminal Code of 1961 [720 ILCS 5/12-14.1], the sentence shall be a term of natural life imprisonment;

(3) except as otherwise provided in the statute defining the offense, for a Class X felony, the sentence shall be not less than 6 years and not more than 30 years;

(4) for a Class 1 felony, other than second degree murder, the sentence shall be not less than 4 years and not more than 15 years;

(5) for a Class 2 felony, the sentence shall be not less than 3 years and not more than 7 years;

(6) for a Class 3 felony, the sentence shall be not less than 2 years and not more than 5 years;

(7) for a Class 4 felony, the sentence shall be not less than 1 year and not more than 3 years.

(b) The sentencing judge in each felony conviction shall set forth his reasons for imposing the particular sentence he enters in the case, as provided in Section 5-4-1 of this Code [730 ILCS 5/5-4-1]. Those reasons may include any mitigating or aggravating factors specified in this Code, or the lack of any such circumstances, as well as any other such factors as the judge shall set forth on the record that are consistent with the purposes and principles of sentencing set out in this Code.

(c) A motion to reduce a sentence may be made, or the court may reduce a sentence without motion, within 30 days after the sentence is imposed. A defendant's challenge to the correctness of a sentence or to any aspect of the sentencing hearing shall be made by a written motion filed within 30 days following the imposition of sentence. However, the court may not increase a sentence once it is imposed.

If a motion filed pursuant to this subsection is timely filed within 30 days after the sentence is imposed, the proponent of the motion shall exercise due diligence in seeking a determination on the motion and the court shall thereafter decide such motion within a reasonable time.

If a motion filed pursuant to this subsection is timely filed within 30 days after the sentence is imposed, then for purposes of perfecting an appeal, a final judgment shall not be considered to have been entered until the motion to reduce a sentence has been decided by order entered by the trial court.

A motion filed pursuant to this subsection shall not be considered to have been timely filed unless it is filed with the circuit court clerk within 30 days after the sentence is imposed together with a notice of motion, which notice of motion shall set the motion on the court's calendar on a date certain within a reasonable time after the date of filing.

(d) Except where a term of natural life is imposed, every sentence shall include as though written therein a term in addition to the term of imprisonment. For those sentenced under the law in effect prior to February 1, 1978, such term shall be identified as a parole term. For those sentenced on or after February 1, 1978, such term shall be identified as a mandatory supervised release term. Subject to earlier termination under Section 3-3-8 [730 ILCS 5/3-3-8], the parole or mandatory supervised release term shall be as follows:

(1) for first degree murder or a Class X felony, 3 years;

(2) for a Class 1 felony or a Class 2 felony, 2 years;

(3) for a Class 3 felony or a Class 4 felony, 1 year;

(4) if the victim is under 18 years of age, for a second or subsequent offense of criminal sexual assault or aggravated criminal sexual assault, 5 years, at least the first 2 years of which the defendant shall serve in an electronic home detention program under Article 8A of Chapter V of this Code [730 ILCS 5/5-8A-1 et seq.];

(5) if the victim is under 18 years of age, for a second or subsequent offense of aggravated criminal sexual abuse or felony criminal sexual abuse, 4 years, at least the first 2 years of which the defendant shall serve in an electronic home detention program under Article 8A of Chapter V of this Code [730 ILCS 5/5-8A-1 et seq.].

(e) A defendant who has a previous and unexpired sentence of imprisonment imposed by another state or by any district court of the United States and who, after sentence for a crime in Illinois, must return to serve the unexpired prior sentence may have his sentence by the Illinois court ordered to be concurrent with the prior sentence in the other state. The court may order that any time served on the unexpired portion of the sentence in the other state, prior to his return to Illinois, shall be credited on his Illinois sentence. The other state shall be furnished with a copy of the order imposing sentence which shall provide that, when the offender is released from confinement of the other state, whether by parole or by termination of sentence, the offender shall be transferred by the Sheriff of the committing county to the Illinois Department of Corrections. The court shall cause the Department of Corrections to be notified of such sentence at the time of commitment and to be provided with copies of all records regarding the sentence.

(f) A defendant who has a previous and unexpired sentence of imprisonment imposed by an Illinois circuit court for a crime in this State and who is subsequently sentenced to a term of imprisonment by another state or by any district court of the United States and who has served a term of imprisonment imposed by the other state or district court of the United States, and must return to serve the unexpired prior sentence imposed by the Illinois Circuit Court may apply to the court which imposed sentence to have his sentence reduced.

The circuit court may order that any time served on the sentence imposed by the other state or district court of the United States be credited on his Illinois sentence. Such application for reduction of a sentence under this subsection (f) shall be made within 30 days after the defendant has completed the sentence imposed by the other state or district court of the United States.
Criminal Defense Atty's Perspectivemorrison
Dec 5, 2001 10:02 AM
When I first started thinking about this yesterday, my impression was that the prosecutor 'over-charged' Fitzpatrick. (In CA, it would have been very difficult to obtain a murder 1 conviction given these facts.) Murder 1 and Murder 2 both require the prosecutor to prove an intentional killing; however, with murder 1 there must be premeditation, or some circumstance that elevates the crime above the default Murder 2. For example, a murder that results in the commission of some other felony, such as rape or arson, is punishable as Murder 1. All other murders are Murder 2.

Generally, road rage type cases result in murder 2 convictions. In CA, the penalty for murder 1 is 25 to life, and for murder 2 it is 15 to life. Nobody gets paroled for Murder 1, so basically, it is a life sentence.

In contrast, in Illinois (based on Dog's post), it appears the penalty for murder 1 is only 20 to 60 y. I say 'only' b/c with a determinate term (meaning an actual term of years, as opposed to "30 to life"), the defendant is given a real release date. This means he knows that someday he will get out, and he knows when.

I don't know how Illinois calculates release dates (some states you do 1/2 time, others 80 %, others no early releases for crimes of serious violence), so I have no idea when Fitzpatrick will be released.

However, I can say this. Based on what he did, I doubt that he really thought much about what he was doing before he did it. At the same time, his act was so brutal, and the consequences so tragic, that he deserves to go to prison for a very long time. In fairness, though, he also should some day be released. He is a young man, and no matter his sentence, he probably will walk the streets again. Hopefully, it won't be until he is in his mid-50's to mid-60's.

Finally, I have a question. Why hasn't this received any press outside of Chicago? Maybe b/c it's not a 'sexy' killing. Regardless, if more people knew what is happening to Fitzpatrick, more might think twice before messing with us on the road. I can't tell you how many times people have pretended to swerve at me, only to drive away laughing. The ones with the really good senses of humor then will throw something, like a soda can, or an empty box of cancer sticks.