Sentencing in Burr Oak Cemetery case postponed; prosecutors seek 15-year sentence

SHARE Sentencing in Burr Oak Cemetery case postponed; prosecutors seek 15-year sentence

Keith Nicks leaves the courthouse on Feb. 10, 2015. Nicks and his brother, Terrence Nicks, were convicted of removing and desecrating human remains at Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip. | Richard A. Chapman/Sun-Times

The sentencing hearings of two former Burr Oak Cemetery workers convicted of desecrating human remains were postponed Tuesday after the brothers’ lawyers said they needed time to respond to Cook County prosecutors’ proposal seeking a 15-year jail term for the pair.

Keith and Terrence Nicks’ conduct was so “unique” in its depravity, they need to be put behind bars despite their lack of criminal backgrounds, Assistant State’s Attorney Nick Trutenko argued, asking Judge Joan Margaret O’Brien to sentence the brothers to consecutive terms.

Probation should not be considered because never before “was there such an attack on the dead,” Trutenko told O’Brien. The prosecutor also asked that Keith Nicks, 51, and his younger sibling be ordered to pay a $25,000 fine for their crimes.

The judge continued the hearing at the Bridgeview courthouse to April 17 after defense attorneys Daniel Locallo and James Fryman said this was the first they had heard of the punishment the state was seeking and wanted time to formulate a written response.

Two separate juries last month found the brothers guilty of participating in a scheme to illegally “double stack” graves and dig out skeletal fragments from their burial sites, trash them and resell the plots to unsuspecting families at the Alsip cemetery.


Terrence Nicks walks away from the courtroom during an afternoon break on Feb. 10, 2015. The sentencing hearings for Terrence Nicks and his brother, Keith Nicks, were postponed on Tuesday. | Richard A. Chapman/Sun-Times

Terrence Nicks’ wife took the stand earlier Tuesday, defending him as an “honest” church-going family man who taught her seven children “integrity.”

“I want my husband to come home. He does not deserve to be in a jail cell,” Chandra Nicks said through tears.

When Trutenko asked Chandra Nicks if the 44-year-old former dump-truck driver ever apologized for his actions, she said, “He doesn’t have to tell me he’s sorry for something he didn’t do.”

Keith Nicks, who had served as the cemetery’s grounds foreman, put his arm around his younger sibling as he wept.

Cemetery manager Carolyn Towns, 55, is serving a 12-year sentence for her role in the gruesome plot.

Backhoe operator Maurice Dailey, 64, is awaiting trial.

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