Murderer Spared from Execution for Sake of Son
Kimberly, James, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: James Kimberly Daily Herald Legal Affairs Writer
For the sake of his 9-year-old son, a Chicago man was spared from death row Friday and sentenced instead to natural life in prison.
Kane County Judge Philip DiMarzio said he could find only one reason not to execute Kenneth R. Smith, 31, for the 1994 murder of an Elgin man at Carpentersville's Fox View apartments.
DiMarzio called Smith a "miserable failure at fatherhood by any objective standard." Yet, DiMarzio recognized that Smith has tried to keep in contact with his young son. By sentencing Smith to life in prison, DiMarzio said the boy will have a constant reminder that crime does not pay.
"The defendant is a living example of misery and suffering brought on by crime, drugs and guns," DiMarzio said. "He is a living example of crime being punished."
Smith was convicted of murdering Christopher Jackson during a botched armed robbery in a basement apartment at Fox View.
Jackson was a drug dealer known to carry large amounts of cash and to wear expensive jewelry. Smith did not know Jackson but was recruited to be the gunman in an armed robbery by a mutual acquaintance.
In arguing for Smith's execution, Assistant State's Attorney Alice Tracy emphasized that Jackson was unarmed and shot several times from close range.
DiMarzio agreed that the murder was brutal but decided it was not so brutal as to warrant the death penalty. …