A Kane County judge Wednesday sentenced a 25-year-old Aurora man to 60 years in prison for breaking into a World War II veteran's home, stabbing him 36 times and trying to set the house on fire.
Hector Mauricio pleaded guilty in September to breaking into the home of 83-year-old Roscoe Ebey in the early morning hours of May 29, 2007.
One of Ebey's neighbors, Leslie Fleming, heard noises from the attack, went outside to investigate, and ended up reaching through Ebey's basement window and pulling Mauricio out by the hair and holding him until authorities arrived.
Mauricio was eligible for the death penalty until Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation banning it.
Judge Timothy Sheldon said Mauricio, the youngest of four children, grew up in an "urban war zone" with no family structure, but had taken responsibility by pleading guilty and has taken steps to improve himself in the four years he's spent in jail since his arrest.
"His mother was an alcoholic. His father was a convicted murderer (of Mauricio's older brother)," Sheldon said. "This young man had no chance."
Outside the courtroom, Ebey's son, Richard, said the family wanted Mauricio to get natural life in prison.
"I'll settle for 60," Richard Ebey said, thanking prosecutors for their efforts. "He'll be an old man by the time he gets out. It still doesn't justify what he did. For what he did, there is no punishment. It's over, but it's not over."
Before the sentence, Mauricio, his head shaved and arms shackled, read a five-minute statement to Sheldon, apologizing for what he did and saying his actions have hurt everyone, including his 5-year-old daughter.
"I should be the only one who would have to reap the misery and heartache," Mauricio said. "If I was in a sober state of mind, all of this could have been averted. Nobody chose to drink but me and now I must be held responsible."
First Assistant State's Attorney Jody Gleason argued for a sentence of natural life in prison and if not that, then a 63-year sentence so Mauricio could be released when he was 83 -- the same age Ebey was when he was murdered.
Gleason said Ebey's body had 36 stab wounds and more than three dozen other injuries, abrasions and punctures.
She also stressed that Mauricio ransacked Ebey's home after the murder and unsuccessfully tried to set fire to Ebey's body and the house, which Ebey built himself after returning from his World War II service.
Gleason also noted Mauricio first was arrested when he was 14 and had convictions for mob action, unlawful use of a weapon and domestic battery.
Assistant Public Defender Julia Yetter argued for a 25-year sentence, saying Mauricio was "highly intoxicated" when he murdered Ebey.
Yetter also pointed to Mauricio's horrible childhood and his progress while in jail, such as seeking help for his substance abuse and getting his GED.
Kane County Sheriff Pat Perez, whose office investigated the murder, said he agreed with Ebey's family who wanted Mauricio to get a life sentence so he could never harm anyone again.
"These aren't my calls to make and I don't question the judge's decision," Perez said.
Ebey's murder prompted the creation of an award handed out each year by the sheriff's department to a good Samaritan.