Natural life sentence for man in Hinsdale woman's brutal murder
The man convicted of killing Andrea Urban in the kitchen of her Hinsdale home on May 4, 2017, was sentenced Tuesday to natural life in prison.
In sentencing Dominic Sanders of University Park, DuPage County Circuit Court Judge Brian Telander agreed with the jury that the murder was exceptionally brutal and heinous and indicative of wanton cruelty, the legal standard for imposing natural life.
A jury in January found Sanders guilty of first-degree murder, home invasion and residential burglary.
Telander disagreed with the contentions of Sanders' sister, mother and niece, who wrote letters saying Sanders was incapable of such violence.
"The evidence would suggest they really don't know the defendant," Telander said.
Urban was beaten and stabbed repeatedly. Her throat was cut, her nose was broken and her skull was cracked by a knife that caused a hinge fracture -- an injury a medical examiner said usually occurs only when great force is applied, such as hitting the windshield of a car in an accident.
Sanders, then 30, was arrested after police discovered he had pawned a ring belonging to Urban.
Authorities said he was walking through her neighborhood the day of the murder, looking for a place to burglarize. Sanders told police he opened the front door of her home, saw the ring on a half-wall in the entryway, and reached in and took it.
Prosecutors also played a videotape of Sanders and a second jail detainee attacking another detainee in December 2019 that left the man with three broken ribs, a punctured lung and a subdural hematoma on his brain. Telander cited that as evidence of Sanders' nature.
Telander also said he agreed with prosecutors that Sanders had tried, in May 2017, to get his mother and cousin to destroy evidence of the slaying.
Prosecutors played a recorded phone call from the jail, in which Sanders mentioned "things" in a gray bin and on a chair that he had left at his cousin's, and suggested the cousin could burn them on the barbecue grill, since the family was having a cookout for the Memorial Day holiday. Prosecutors believe those items may have been clothing Sanders wore the day of the murder.
Urban's son, daughter and mother read statements to the court.
Her son, then a senior in high school, was the one who found the body.
"She did not just die. She did not have an accident. She was murdered," he said, the volume of his voice increasing with each sentence.
He said Sanders treated his mother like an animal who had gotten in his way. "She was not some animal or rodent or stupid little bug. She was my mom," he said.
Now, his happy memories of his "goofy little strong hippy blonde-haired mom" are replaced by what he saw. "She was splattered all over the kitchen, like paint," he said.
His sister, who was 11 at the time, said she struggles whenever friends talk about their own mothers.
"The defendant took away our world cruelly. Now the only time I can see her is in my dreams," the girl said.
Sanders, who did not testify at his trial, spoke Thursday. He said he felt sorry for Urban's family but maintained he did not commit the crime.
"I'm not capable of doing anything like this," he said.
He acknowledged opening Urban's front door and said that maybe if he had opened it fully, he would have seen the attack and been able to help her.
Turning toward Urban's relatives, he said, "If they need somebody to hate, I'll be that person. (But) I can't take responsibility for the crime because I didn't do it."