Zion man gets 22-year term in baby’s death
By Beth Kramer email@example.com February 19, 2013 7:42PM
Updated: March 21, 2013 6:29AM
About a month before his 24th birthday, a Zion man accepted a plea deal that will keep him behind bars until he is about 40.
Larnell Mace, 23, took a plea deal before Lake County Circuit Judge John Phillips on Tuesday. Mace will serve 22 years and six months in prison for causing the blunt force trauma that killed his 4-month-old daughter Jasmine Mace on April 16, 2008.
Mace entered an Alford plea through his attorney, Jed Stone.
“An Alford plea ... means a defendant can persist in pleading not guilty, but his lawyer enters a plea of guilt. The benefits are extraordinary and the risks of trial are unbelievably great,” Stone said.
Mace was charged with nine counts of first-degree murder. He have could have faced life in prison on three of the counts, up to 100 years in prison on some of the counts and up to 60 years in prison on the rest, Judge Phillips said.
Mace took the plea to a single count of first-degree murder. The remaining counts were dropped.
Prosecutor James Newman said Mace brought his daughter to an emergency room in Zion. Jasmine was not responsive and pronounced deceased within 30 minutes of their arrival, Newman said. An autopsy revealed the infant had significant internal injuries, including a lacerated liver, Newman said.
Mace was interviewed by detectives on more than one occasion. He first said he struck his daughter with a closed fist to get her to stop crying, then stepped on her. Mace later told police he struck Jasmine with a closed fist five to six times in her stomach area to get her to stop crying, Newman said.
Mace will be on parole for life after he is finished with his sentence. He will get credit for the time he has spent in custody at Lake County Jail since April 17, 2008.
“This young man comes from a background of foster care and neglect and extreme abuse and I could not allow him to be locked up for the rest of his life,” Stone said after Tuesday’s hearing.
Mace’s troubled upbringing left him ill-equipped to be a father when his girlfriend of 18 months delivered Jasmine Mace on Dec. 19, 2007, Stone said. Mace was 19 at the time.
Mace was born in Chicago in March 1989 to a mother with drug addiction problems and an absentee father, Stone said. Mace lived in several foster homes and has a “well documented” history of abuse at many of those homes, Stone said.
Stone said his client does not know what he will do with his life once he is released from prison. Mace has invented a device preventing children and animals from drowning in swimming pools, said his attorney, and the pair are working to patent the device.