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OTTAWA — A Chicago man convicted last month of breaking into the home of a 92-year-old woman and roped to her bed was sentenced Thursday to 35 years in prison. Jimmy Members, now 24, had insisted throughout his jury trial he never set food inside the Ottawa woman’s home and only helped shop for the burglary tools at a Joliet Wal-Mart. When offered a chance to speak Thursday, Members offered only a half-apology in which he never admitted any kind of guilt. “I’m remorseful to all who were involved,” he said carefully, reading from a prepared statement, “and with all my heart I’m sorry for the victim.” Judge Cynthia M. Raccuglia didn’t let his lack of remorse pass without comment. She rejected the defense’s recommendation for a 12-year sentence and said “You can’t rehabilitate someone who’s shown no remorse or responsibility,” the judge said. Raccuglia then handed down a sentence of 35 years in prison, just 10 years less than what prosecutors asked for. Ottawa police were summoned to a west-side Ottawa home Aug. 9, 2013, and found a 92-year-old woman who’d been bound in rope and duct tape while her house was ransacked. The woman had removed her hearing aids before bed and could not hear or see her assailants. However, Ottawa police developed three suspects and recovered some physical evidence placing one man (not Members) at the scene. Prosecutors also cut a deal with burglar Jeremy Wade and getaway driver Britney Dorsman, who will plead guilty later. Chief deputy assistant La Salle County state’s attorney Greg Sticka reminded Raccuglia that Members was eligible for an extended sentencing range of 6-60 years because the victim was a senior citizen and therefore in a protected class. Sticka recommended a sentence beyond the normal maximum of 30 years, citing the “meticulous planning” of the break-in and the “callous” and “evil” manner in which the victim was left bound, increasing her risk of injury or death. “None of this was necessary,” Sticka said. “She was not the type of physical threat to thwart this robbery. It was just a mean, cruel act.” Public defender Tim Cappellini argued Members had a limited criminal history and plenty of rehabilitative potential. “It seems to me from the testimony that this other individual is the one who planned this,” Cappellini said, likely referring to the remaining defendant, Richard Felton. “(Jimmy Members was) along for the ride.” That ride, however, included an incriminating trip to Joliet where Members was filmed buying black clothes, rope, a pry bar and flashlights. Members admitted at trial that was him on tape, though he insisted he then drove home to Chicago and never set foot in Ottawa. “You didn’t think this looked suspicious?” Sticka said at cross-examination. “I didn’t care,” Members testified. Thursday, Raccuglia reminded Members of the didn’t-care comment. “I find that to be evidence of a lack of remorse,” the judge said, “and not believable – that you were not suspicious.” Members is eligible for day-for-day good time and could be released in about 17 years. Next to stand trial is Felton, who is charged not only in the Ottawa home invasion but in the shooting of Wade nine days later atop the Sandy Ford bridge near Leonore. Wade survived a shot to the face and a 40-foot drop into a mostly-dry riverbed. That trial currently is set for Dec. 1. Tom Collins can be reached at (815) 220-6930 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NT_Court.
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