Kane to appeal Luciano ruling
By Dan Campana For The Beacon-News March 19, 2013 3:12PM
The appellate court has ruled in favor of convicted Aurora murderer Michael Luciano on a sentencing issue.
Updated: April 21, 2013 6:11AM
The Kane County state’s attorney’s office plans to appeal a recent Second District Appellate Court ruling which centered on post-conviction issues in the second murder case of Auroran Michael Luciano.
In a ruling issued last week, the appellate court highlighted a U.S. Supreme Court decision — noted as the Miller case — that deemed unconstitutional the portion of Illinois’ law requiring automatic mandatory life sentences for a person convicted of two murders committed as a juvenile.
Luciano, now 40, had not yet turned 18 when he participated in two murders — the 1989 killing of Willie Arce and the 1990 shooting death of rival gang member Albert “Psycho” Gonzalez.
Luciano was not charged with either murder until 2007’s Operation First Degree Burn sweep by Aurora and federal officers, which resulted in arrests in several cold cases involving the Latin Kings street gang in Aurora.
Luciano unsuccessfully argued for his Gonzalez conviction to be overturned because the same evidence used to find him guilty was not enough to convict his father, Angel “Doc” Luciano, in that killing. Angel Luciano also was arrested in the First Degree Burn sweep.
In 2011, Michael Luciano filed, on his own, a post-conviction petition claiming, among other things, errors by his attorney in the Gonzalez case and the failure to try to have the charges dropped because of double jeopardy rules. In 1991, Luciano pleaded guilty to a weapons offense related to the Gonzalez murder, a move which he contends should have kept prosecutors from charging him with Gonzalez’s murder 16 years later. A Kane County judge denied Luciano’s petition, which prompted the most recent appeal.
In vacating Luciano’s sentence in the Gonzalez case based on Miller, Second District judges disagreed with prosecutors who argued Luciano could not seek to have Miller retroactively applied because he failed to mention the issue in his original appeal.
Prosecutors also wanted the appeal rejected since the entire law on mandatory life sentences wasn’t deemed unconstitutional.
“Miller ... requires in every case with a minor defendant a full sentencing hearing with a range of sentences available to the court, even in a situation that would otherwise qualify the offender for a mandatory life sentence without parole,” the appellate ruling states. “We have determined that Miller is retroactively applicable to this case, implicitly finding the sentencing provision to be in violation of the United States Constitution.”
The judges, however, did not grant Luciano’s request to be sentenced in a range between 20 and 60 years, according to the ruling.
No new court dates have been set in Kane County for Luciano’s case.