An appellate court panel has ordered a new sentencing hearing for an Aurora man who got 60 years in prison for the 2007 murder of 83-year-old Roscoe Ebey of Aurora.
The panel ruled on Monday that a Kane County judge improperly considered Ebey's background as a World War II veteran as an aggravating factor in determining the sentence.
Prosecutors had originally pushed for the death penalty in the murder of Ebey, who was stabbed 36 times and had more than three dozen other injuries.
Hector Mauricio, now 27, was arrested May 29, 2007, after a neighbor heard noises from the attack at Ebey's home and went to investigate. Leslie Fleming reached through a basement window and pulled Mauricio, who also tried to set the house on fire after killing Ebey, out by the hair and detained him until authorities arrived.
But Gov. Quinn outlawed capital punishment and Mauricio eventually pleaded guilty, leaving his fate up to Judge Timothy Sheldon, who has since retired.
At the June 2011 sentencing, Sheldon referred to Ebey's service in World War II, calling him a "member of the greatest generation" and "a very fine man."
"Of course, we do not disagree with any of the trial court's sentiments," wrote the appellate panel. "Nevertheless, the trial court's implication was improper as it was unmistakable; because Ebey was a 'very good man,' the defendant's crime was more serious that it otherwise would have been."
No new date has been set to sentence Mauricio. The appellate court voided his 60-year sentence, but his guilty plea still stands so he will not go free.
Under his old sentence, Mauricio was set for prison release in May 2067 when he will be 80. He now faces anywhere from 45 years to life in prison.
Ebey's death prompted Kane County Sheriff Pat Perez to start the Roscoe Ebey Award, which is the office's Citizen of the Year Award.