January 7, 2010 -2:00pm
This morning, the two defendants surprised us all. They intended to enter a plea to remove a statement (don't know which one, though) but instead they decided to plead guilty to the charges against them with one of them stating that he is very sorry for what he did.
I had longed for this day since June of last year when I saw two guys mercilessly beating Steve, stealing his money, then stealing his car while he was being dragged on the pavement. Thank you Christopher and Carletus for ending this senseless trial and saving us all time and taxpayer's resources. There were several witnesses to the attack and thanks to the quick response of the community and police force you were arrested within minutes of the incident after crashing the stolen car. You had no case. You did it and we saw you do it.
The two attackers were sentenced to six years in jail minus 219 days already served. I consider this a fair punishment for the crime and I sincerely hope that when they get out of jail they change their criminal mindset.
Thanks to Michele Hays for helping me with the fund raising efforts to replace Steve's car and for keeping on top of the trial proceedings. I must also thank the media and especially Lisa Black from the Chicago Tribune. Their coverage made the effort wildly successful and I know Steve is also very thankful for this. Thanks must also go to all my neighbors and our awesome alderwoman Ann Rainey for the support, car rides to the trial, the block party and for making this neighborhood something I want to be a part of.
I really hope incidents like this never happen again but let's keep and eye out for the bad guys so that the Evanston's Great 8th District continues to be a great place to live.
p.s. You can track the attackers location and sentence status via the Illinois Department of Corrections website and even sign up to be informed via email, text or phone when the attackers are moved to a new facility, paroled or released.
Christopher Norton's IDOC code is: M11407
Carletus Jackson's IDOC code is: M11390
June 5, 2009 - 1:29pm
Source: CBS 2 News Video feed
Christopher Yaboah Norton, age 21, 1415 West Pratt, Chicago, arrested at 835 Case on 06/02/09 at 1945 hrs for robbery investigation (trial date 06/25/09 at 0900 hrs), by Det. Williams. 09-14258
Carletus Jackson, age 21, 1350 North Monticello, Chicago, arrested at 1004 Harvard Terrace on 06/02/09 at 2039 hrs for robbery investigation (trial date 06/25/09 at 0900 hrs), by Officer Wernick. 09-14258
The two suspects have been ordered held on $100,000 bond each.
The above information was extracted from the City of Evanston Daily Crime Bulletin issued on June 5, 2009. As you can see, the hearing date is scheduled for
Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 9:00am
Second Municipal District Circuit Court of Cook County
5600 Old Orchard Road
Skokie, IL 60077
I hope that you will be present at the trial. Let's let our presence be known in the courtroom to let the suspects know that crimes like these affect entire communities, not just one person. It saddens me that these two individuals chose to effectively ruin their lives for some money and perhaps a momentary thrill.
For more information, please visit the Crime Analysis portion of the City of Evanston website, or call the Community Strategies Bureau at 847-866-5019.
Richard Foote is a former assistant state's attorney/prosecutor and resident of the area. He sent me the following message:
With regard to the trial matters of the suspects, I may want to add some clarification. 6/25 will likely be a very quick hearing, and will definitely NOT be a trial. The defendants will likely be appointed a public defender if they are indigent, or a private attorney will enter his/her appearance upon their behalf(s). After that it will be set over again, likely another month down the road for a preliminary hearing if a grand jury has not returned an indictment against them in the interim time period. At that point the matter will either be placed on a pre-trial setting (unless there is a plea agreement), and would be looking at a hearing/setting every other month with a trial set for Oct or Nov, assuming there are no speedy trial waivers.
Even though the court appearance on June 25 is probably just a hearing, I believe it is important for all of us to attend. Hope to see you there.
Just because this says 9am, don't bank on punctuality. A number of cases are set for that time, and they are taken in order. Be prepared to spend a couple of hours at the Courthouse, and remember to leave nail files, laptops and other items at home.
Security is fairly tight at the courthouse. For those of you who have not gone to proceedings before, be aware that the judges do not tolerate whispers in the gallery, so bring a book if you need something to kill time. As a rule, we stand when the case in question is called and we remain standing until the judge tells us to sit or instructs the bailiff to tell us.
It makes a huge impression on both judges and on offenders when we turn out for these proceedings, and it adds to the quality of life in the neighborhood substantially. To all of you who will take time off from work for this, thank you for all of us!
June 25, 2009 - 12:40pm
We were at the court hearing this morning. The two suspects have been indicted and the trial is scheduled to start on
Wednesday, July 15, 2009 at 9:00am
July 15, 2009 - 3:40pm
Several neighbors were present at 9:30am for the arraignment at the courthouse. It took place around 2:30pm after much waiting and the two defendants pleaded not guilty to the two criminal charges filed: robbery and carjacking. There are other misdemeanors on file such us drug possession and assault. The defendants also asked for drug treatment at the correctional facility and were granted that by judge Timothy Chambers. I sincerely hope that their drug treatment works and they are able to rid themselves of their addiction.
Defendant Cristopher Norton has no criminal record and defendant Carletus Jackson has a criminal record related to drug possession. The prosecutor, Assistant State Attorney Rick Cenar, will investigate their juvenile record in case there are any indictments and/or convictions as well. It is my understanding that he will be asking for prison time of five to twelve years.
The actual trial will begin on Wednesday, August 5 at 9:30am. I urge all of you in the community to join us in making a strong presence there.
September 4, 2009 - 1:00pm
The prosecutor offered a plea bargain to the defendants earlier today: 6 years in prison if they plead guilty for the charges against them. I am not a lawyer nor am I experienced with the criminal court system so I do not know if that is considered a reasonable punishment for the crime but I do know one thing: The members of the community affected by these crimes want justice served.
The father of Christopher Norton believes this is too harsh a penalty considering his son has no criminal record. My opinion is quite the opposite. Having seen the crime happening and the attitude the two defendants had during the incident, I can surely say they acted like they had nothing to lose and were proud of what they were doing. They sauntered to Steve's car as he was badly hurt on the ground as if what they had just done to him was something to brag about.
The next scheduled court date is October 21st at 9:30am. Please join us.
October 23, 2009 - 3:50pm
A new judge was assigned to the case for reasons unknown to me. Christopher Norton’s family hired a new lawyer who delayed everything for several hours because he was late – the assumption on the part of the prosecution was that they got a new lawyer to oppose the previous judge’s offer of 6 years. Since there was a new judge and new counsel, they decided to reconvene the 402 conference (see “plea bargain” on this page for an explanation of what a 402 conference is) and the defense and the prosecution went into the judge’s chambers.
After the conference, the judge ruled that the defendants should get the drug treatment they had asked for twice previously but had apparently never received (it was not made clear why they hadn’t yet received treatment.) They will appear in court again on Nov. 2 to confirm they are in drug treatment. After the treatment is completed, the judge will decide if he will consider the new defense counsel’s request for the boot camp program instead of the 6 year sentence. If the treatment program doesn’t happen, they will most likely keep continuing the case until they get treatment or until the judge is given a reason why they don’t qualify for the program.
The prosecutor did point out that it’s very likely that this case will go on well into next year, so we shouldn’t expect a quick resolution. Clearly, it seems as it will be that way.
It is very sad to see our tax dollars being wasted on such a redundant and painfully slow process. I really wish the suspects would "man up" and plead guilty. Christopher Norton already apologized to Steven the day of the carjacking. That is clearly an admission of guilt. See you on November 2 at 9:30am.
November 2, 2009 - 11:25am
The bus from the correctional facility to the courthouse in Skokie was on time today. The defense lawyer was on time. The prosecutor was on time. The judge started on time. Judging from this you would think the system works like a Swiss clock. It does not.
During a brief audience with the judge, the defense lawyer stated that the defendants have not been accepted into the drug rehabilitation treatment they have requested several times. A reason for that is still unknown and the case will be continued on November 23 with the hopes of having the defendants already enrolled in the program or at least know why they are not eligible.
After that short time we stepped outside of the courtroom and talked briefly with the State's Attorney who explained to us that she is not sure why we don't know if they are eligible at all for the drug rehab program. It could be because this was a violent crime but she still doesn't know the reasons. I expressed to her my frustration with this case being dragged so much and, at the same time, wasting our time and tax dollars with having to transport the suspects to and from the correctional facility every time they need to appear before the judge. Then she made a comment that is symptomatic of how waste is deeply rooted in our legal system: she said "no. They are not wasting any money. The case is just continuing".
This is a State's Attorney, someone who is drawing her salary from hundreds of cases like this one being "dragged" and while other cases pile up in the queue. Along with her, judges, public defenders, policemen, guards, bus drivers, cooks, and countless others draw their salaries from our legal system which allows cases to be "dragged". We also spend on gas, food, electricity, courthouse upkeep and many other things so that we have a place to hold the trials. These guys are using the system, dragging it, and we are all paying for it. But in the opinion of the State's Attorney, "they are not wasting any money".
I don't claim to have the answers but I am disgusted by the lack of regard for the public good. Those resources could be used for education, drug rehabilitation outside of the penal system, health... countless other things. They are instead being used to feed, clothe and transport the suspects, for maintaining the courthouses they use and to staff a system that doesn't work efficiently. If the judge doesn't know why the suspects are not eligible for a program, how about asking the people who run it? Instead the judge has had, to this date, 3 audiences with the suspects so that they can say "the drug treatment people haven't contacted me. Good bye".
There must be a better way. See you on November 23rd.
November 23, 2009 - 8:15pm
It seems that we are not the only ones frustrated with the slow pace of the case against the suspects and that there is a chance to get some closure soon.
We learned today that the suspects do not qualify for the drug treatment they have been requesting every chance they have had. Therefore, the judge has given them until December 7 (two weeks from today) to make up their mind. Their choices are pleading guilty and serving six years in jail or take their chances with a trial. I applaud the judge's decision of moving on with the case promptly.
Six years seem to me like a resonable penalty for the kind of charges they are facing considering they would be admitting to them and saving us all time and resources. I wish they come to their senses and do just that since it is possible they could face a longer sentence if they lose a trial.
See you on December 7.
December 7, 2009 - 2:20pm
Today we had yet a new judge. Initially we thought a new judge had been assigned to this case but, as it turned out, judge Axelrod had jury duty today. I never thought about it but I guess even judges get to go to jury duty.
Judge Marcia B. Orr called our case a couple of times but it could not be brought up because the new defense lawyer (this is the second one they have hired) was late. The hearing was at 9:30am but he got there around 11:00am. We are dealing with a professional lawyer who knew weeks in advance where and when he needed to be but he decided to be late. Try that are your job place next time and see where it gets you. For him, not even a comment from the judge. I hear some judges do give lawyers grief for being late (as I think they should) but apparently not this one.
The new lawyer mentioned that he will be submitting a motion to suppress statement on January 7th. This seems to me like yet another trick to delay the case. The prosecutor is confident they have a solid case but was not surprised of this move by the lawyer.
It was a rather short hearing but we did learn something interesting. The mother of one of the defendants had been there for a while next to us and payed very close attention to another case that was heard before this one. It involved her boyfriend who pleaded guilty to retail theft in a store in Evanston and will begin to serve a prison sentence of 30 months minus 35 days for the time he has been under custody.
During the hearing he could not understand that he was not eligible for probation or drug rehab due to his background which included a prison sentence for retail theft and several other arrests. The judge kept explaining that someone who receives treatment (he had in the past) does not get preferential treatment and that it is ultimately one's own responsibility to stop using, not the result of some magic that takes place during rehab. After he had to give up asking for rehab he starting asking for probation instead of prison time. He had served time for the same reason so he was not eligible. It took him a while to understand that you don't just get probation instead of prison time just because you ask but at the end he seemed to understand.
So this woman goes to court to see her boyfriend plead guilty and start a prison sentence of over two years while asking for privileges he was clearly not entitled to. Then she stays to see her son's lawyer use yet another trick to delay the case after their petition for drug rehab was denied. What a sad culture of crime. I have seen younger teens with her in the past who I can only assume are one of the defendant's younger brothers. I really fear for their future.
Please join us next January 7 at the Skokie Court House. We will hear what statements the defense lawyer wants to suppress from the evidence. Perhaps the statement Christopher Norton made in front of us after he was arrested. He said to Steve "I'm sorry. I just wanted your money".
If that is not an admission of guilt, I don't know what is.