The Illinois Fourth District Appellate Court reversed the conviction of 24-year-old Rafael Kennedy. He was serving a 30-year sentence in the Illinois Department of Corrections after he was found guilty of murder during a bench trial in 2010. The appellate court ruled he be brought back to Morgan County for a new trial.
Kennedy was arrested with co-defendant Julius Washington stemming from the shooting death of Earl Capone Jackson during a 2007 robbery. Washington struggled with Jackson during the robbery, pulled a gun and a shot was fired. Kennedy also became involved with the struggle and another shot was fired.
Chris Reif is Morgan Count state’s attorney.
“This is one of those legal technicalities where the appellate court basically said that the judge - although it was a trial where the judge made determination and a finding and that determination and finding was correct - their opinion is there should have been a 25-year add-on under the accountability because a gun was used to kill the victim in this case," says Reif. "The judge found the evidence the state would have presented did not support a finding on that element beyond a reasonable doubt."
The appellate court contends the court was not required to determine Kennedy possessed a firearm, only that a firearm was used during the robbery.