Plea deal offered to accused baby killer
By Beth Kramer firstname.lastname@example.org February 8, 2013 6:58PM
Updated: March 10, 2013 6:45AM
A Zion man accused of killing his 4-month-old daughter was a troubled teen who had been physically and sexually abused multiple times while he was bounced from foster home to foster home as a ward of the state, according to his attorney.
Larnell Mace, 23, told police he punched his daughter Jasmine five to six times in the stomach, blows that led to fatal internal injuries on April 16, 2008, authorities said.
Mace was due to stand trial for first-degree murder Monday, but a scheduling issue with a witness delayed the trial to Feb. 25. His attorney, Jed Stone, and Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney James Newman were before Judge John Phillips on Friday for a pretrial hearing.
“The state has made an offer. A plea of guilty to murder for a 25-year (prison) sentence,” Phillips said.
There was also discussion about making an Alford plea, which does not directly admit guilt, but does admit there could be enough evidence to lead to a conviction, Phillips said.
“I’m spending time with Larnell Sunday (to discuss) an Alford plea. He does not have to say I’m a murderer,” Stone said.
Mace faces life in prison if he is convicted of first-degree murder. He also faces sentencing ranges of 60 to 100 years in prison for some of the counts and 20 to 60 years for some of the murder counts, Phillips said.
“You would be facing a sentence to spend the rest of your natural life in prison. That is a terrible, terrible risk if you were to go to trial,” Phillips said.
Mace was 19 when his girlfriend of 18 months gave birth to their daughter on Dec. 19, 2007. He was still a ward of the state at the time, Stone said Friday.
“He was completely unequipped to be left alone with a child,” Stone said.
Mace needs more time to consider whether or not he will take the plea, so Phillips set the matter to Monday for a decision.
Newman said after the hearing that attorneys were working on resolving the case.
“It’s outrageous if he goes to trial and is one of those cases that the judge will sentence him to life in prison without parole. I can’t let that happen,” Stone said.
Mace was born to a mother with drug addiction problems. His father was not around, Stone said. Mace was a ward of the state in Cook County who has documented multiple instances of physical and sexual abuse at various foster and group homes, Stone said.
“His life history is heart-breaking,” his attorney said.