Appeals court overturns conviction in beating robbery

Bill Catching

Citing a technicality, an appeals court has ordered a new trial for a Boulder Hill man convicted and sentenced to 105 years in prison for the 1990 beating and robbery of an Oswego Township man and his 11-year-old daughter.

Sixteenth Circuit Court Judge James Wilson failed to fully inform Joseph W. Hampton, 21, formerly of the 0-99 block of Afton Road, of the prison sentence facing him, according to the Second District Appellate Court's ruling.

Hampton, represented by Aurora attorney David Camic and Chicago attorney Marvin Bloom on appeal, will be transferred from state prison to the Kendall County jail, where he will be held until his new trial.

"We're pleased with the decision because we were confident that the law was in our favor," Camic said.

Kendall County Assistant State's Attorney Jean Fletcher said no decision has been made whether to appeal the case to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Justice John J. Bowman, writing for the Appellate Court, said Judge Wilson should have warned Hampton that he probably faced consecutive sentences. Instead, Wilson simply warned Hampton that consecutive sentencing was a possibility.

"To say that the possibility of consecutive sentences exists is simply not the same thing as saying that consecutive sentences must be imposed," wrote Justice Bowman. "This distinction could well have influenced the defendant's decision to forgo his right to a jury trial and plead guilty."

Two other local Appellate Court justices, James Quetsch of Geneva and Michael Colwell of Aurora, concurred in the opinion.

Hampton and Jayme P. Sebers, 26, formerly of the 0-99 block of Pueblo Road, Boulder Hill, pleaded guilty to two attempted murder charges and charges of armed robbery and aggravated battery in connection with the Aug.. 24, 1990, incident.

In that incident, an Oswego man was struck by a car, then both he and his 11-year-old daughter were beaten with an ax handle as they walked near their home on Sundown Lane southwest of Oswego. The man's brother-in-law found then unconscious in the 7900 block of Sundown Lane.

The day after the crime, Hampton and Sebers confessed to Kendall County sheriff's investigators. Originally, the suspects said their car hit a deer, but later admitted their involvement in the crime. They said they split the $250 they took from the father.

Defense attorneys attempted insanity defenses in pre-trial proceedings, but the two men later pleaded guilty to all four charges against them.

Hampton was sentenced to 105 years in prison and Sebers to 90.

During the sentencing, Judge Wilson singled out Hampton and said he failed to believe Hampton's expressed regret for the crime in earlier testimony.

Hampton received 60 years for the girl's attempted murder and 45 for the father's attempted murder. Sebers received 45 years on both charges. Sebers is also appealing his case.

Under Illinois sentencing laws, the men were eligible for sentences up to 120 years for the charges. They will be eligible for parole for good behavior after they serve half their sentences.

In his appeal, Hampton also alleged that the 105-year-sentence was excessive. The justices said they would not rule on that in light of their decision for a new trial.