Terry Bratcher learned that he will be spending the rest of his life in jail for the role he played in the robbery and murder of former Illinois State Rife Association vice president and attorney Carl Kuhn.
Bratcher was one of two men who hatched the scheme to rob and kill the 82-year-old Kuhn. His accomplice Keith Allen only received 46 years in jail. So why the difference?
Judge Blanche Hill Fawell cited the nature of the relationship that Bratcher had with Kuhn in handing down the sentence, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. Bratcher was a friend and former client of Kuhn's, and Bratcher had frequently visited Kuhn's home and ran errands for the elderly man.
Despite the friendship, prosecutors charged Bratcher with scheming with Allen to steal Kuhn's collection of rifles, pistols, and guns in order to sell the collection to buy drugs, reports the Sun-Times.
According to prosecutors, Bratcher took advantage of his friendship to enter Kuhn's home. As the two talked, Bratcher signaled for Allen to enter the home with a gun. The two thieves then blindfolded Kuhn and smothered him by forcing his face into a couch cushion.
For the murder, both men could have faced life imprisonment. While Bratcher got life, Allen only received 46 years in a separate trial earlier this year. Judge Fawell probably decided to give Bratcher a harsher sentence given the fact that Bratcher took advantage of his friendship with Kuhn to commit the crime. Allen apparently had no preexisting relationship with Kuhn.
Judges have some discretion to determine criminal penalties. In this case, the judge likely considered Terry Bratcher's friendship with Carl Kuhn in giving the man life in prison.
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