People v. HouseAnnotate this Case
House was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated kidnapping based on his participation in 1993 abductions and shooting deaths of two teenagers. House was 19 at the time of the crimes. He claimed that he had no idea of the larger plan when the victims were driven to the deserted location and that the victims were killed after he left. The circuit court sentenced him to a mandatory natural life term for the murder convictions and 60 years for each aggravated kidnapping conviction, to run consecutively.
In 2001, House’s sentence for the kidnappings was reduced to consecutive 30-year terms. House filed a post-conviction petition, asserting actual innocence based on a witness’s recantation of her trial testimony; newly discovered evidence of police misconduct; ineffective assistance of counsel; and that his mandatory sentence of natural life violated the Eighth Amendment and the Illinois constitution's proportionate penalties clause. The appellate court vacated House’s sentence, finding that his mandatory natural life sentence violated the Illinois proportionate penalties provision as applied because it precluded consideration of mitigating factors, specifically House’s age, level of culpability, and criminal history.
The Illinois Supreme Court directed the appellate court to vacate its judgment and to reconsider the effect of its 2018 Harris opinion. On remand, the appellate court denied an agreed motion seeking remand and again vacated House’s sentence. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed in part. The appellate court erroneously held that House’s sentence violated the proportionate penalties clause without a developed evidentiary record or factual findings on the as-applied constitutional challenge. The court vacated the dismissal of the actual innocence claim.