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Judge’s refusal to reconsider Suggs sentence moves case to appellate court

 Montago Suggs

Montago Suggs

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Updated: February 10, 2014 11:44AM

With a Lake County judge’s refusal to reconsider the 110-year prison sentence for Montago Suggs, convicted of killing 22-year-old Melinda “Mindy” Morrell of Round Lake Park during a 2007 robbery in Waukegan, the case now moves to appellate court in Elgin.

Judge Daniel Shanes refused a routine defense motion to reconsider the sentence Tuesday.

Public Defendant Keith Grant said Wednesday that the motion to reconsider was needed to move the case to the 2nd District Appellate Court in Elgin, and that a motion to appeal has now been filed and an appellate public defender has been appointed.

Shanes’ refusal to reduce the sentence was expected. At the sentencing hearing for Suggs, Shanes had said, “Let me be clear, I intend that you spend the rest of your days in prison.”

In September, a jury convicted Suggs, 29, of Kenosha, of first-degree murder for shooting Morrell in the head during a May 21, 2007, robbery of the former Waukegan Check ’n Go store on Green Bay Road.

In a subsequent one-day bench trial, Suggs was also found guilty of attempted first-degree murder and armed robbery for pointing a gun at the head of a clerk and pulling the trigger at Ma & Pa’s Corner Store, 37737 N. Green Bay Road, Beach Park, just five days after Morrell’s murder.

Officials said the gun pointed at the clerk was loaded but no round was in the chamber, which likely saved the man’s life. Suggs then fled the store and was later arrested in Wisconsin.

He faced up to life in prison for the murder conviction and up to 45 years in prison on the attempted murder conviction.

During the sentencing hearing, the court heard victim impact statements from Morrell’s mother and sister, and a declaration of innocence from Suggs, who said he was sorry for the death of Morrell, but he was not the person who murdered her.

Shanes sentenced Suggs to 80 years in prison for the first-degree murder conviction, which must be served at 100 percent.

He sentenced Suggs to 28 years in prison for the attempted murder at the Ma & Pa’s store and 30 years in prison for attempted armed robbery in that case. Those two sentences will be served consecutively, but not until after Suggs has served the entire 80 years for Morrell’s murder.

Morrell’s mother, Sheryl Morrell, said Mindy, a former Spartan cheerleader in Round Lake, was working to save money and that she wanted to go to college to pursue a career in sports medicine, and also spent time teaching her nieces, some of whom attended the trial, cheerleading skills.

“I was with Mindy when she took her first breath, but he took her last (one),” Morrell said. “I will never forgive him for that.”

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