JOLIET – A man who was a teenager when he murdered a cab driver 30 years ago will remain in prison for the rest of his life.
Judge Robert Livas ruled Tuesday that a recent Supreme Court case regarding juvenile sentences does not mean the life-term of James E. Walker, 48, should be reconsidered.
Walker received the sentence for the 1984 murder of Charles Davis.
“We’re very relieved and excited about the outcome,” Davis’ sister Mary Ash said after Livas’ decision.
“It’s been very hard on us recently. Reopening this case brought up a lot of [bad] memories,” Kathy Greenway, another sister, agreed.
On March 16, 1984, Walker, who was 17 at the time, and Xavier D. Williams, then 16, called for a taxi to rob the driver. According to court records, they had Davis, 29, stop in the 1200 block of Clark Street. Williams got out of the cab. Walker shot Davis, of Crest Hill, with a sawed-off shotgun he had hidden under his coat.
Walker later told police he killed Davis so he could not be identified.
Walker turned 18 a month after the killing. In 2012, the Supreme Court decided in “Miller vs. Alabama” that a mandatory life sentence for a juvenile was unconstitutional.
But Livas said a review of court transcripts and case law showed life without parole was not a mandatory punishment, so the Supreme Court case did not apply.
Livas said then-Judge Herman Hasse found Davis’ slaying was a “brutal and heinous crime” after Walker’s lawyer at the time made his age a central part of his argument.
“I don’t see how it was possible for [Hasse] to not consider [the age] factor at the time,” Livas said.
Williams was sentenced to 35 years in prison but was released before October 2011, according to court records. Walker remains in the Pontiac Correctional Center. He did not attend Tuesday’s hearing.