Mom of man who could get resentenced thankful he could be freed after nearly 3 decades in prison
Larry Frazier, now 63, is the first convicted felon in Illinois to be recommended for a shorter sentence under a new state law.
The relatives of a man who has been locked up for nearly three decades for a home invasion say they are optimistic they’ll get to see him free again soon.
On Wednesday, Cook County Judge Brian Flaherty called Larry Frazier’s case for a hearing at the Markham Courthouse in a bid to have his original six-decade sentence reviewed, which could lead to his early release. Frazier was 40 when he was given 60 years in prison for a 1995 home invasion in Calumet Park, according to court records.
Frazier, now 63, is the first convicted felon in Illinois to be recommended by prosecutors for resentencing under a new state law that went into effect in January.
Signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker last summer, SB 2129 grants prosecutors the ability to request a resentencing hearing for a defendant if “the original sentence no longer advances the interests of justice.”
State’s Attorney Kim Foxx announced last week Cook County would be the first jurisdiction in Illinois to try to revisit some decades-old sentences under a new initiative by her office.
At the time he was sentenced in 1999, Frazier was given an extended sentence because the victim was 62. At his sentencing, the judge noted Frazier’s lengthy criminal history and that he had re-offended only 11 days after he was released from prison, court documents show. He had previously been convicted of charges including theft and armed robbery.
Frazier had also found the woman’s gun and threatened her with it, court documents show. The woman and Frazier struggled over the weapon and it went off, striking Frazier in the chest.
In their motion, prosecutors noted the victim wasn’t hurt physically and argued that since being locked up, Frazier “has taken substantial steps toward rehabilitation.”
While prosecutors have not given further details, family members said while in prison he had earned his GED and completed coursework in HVAC systems.
Ultimately, a judge will decide whether to reduce Frazier’s sentence — and by how much.
Flaherty indicated that the process will not be decided soon; the judge said he would need prosecutors to provide copies of records related to Frazier’s case, legal challenges Frazier previously brought and other court filings for the judge to review.
“As far as I’m concerned we’re at the very beginning of this journey,” the judge said before setting a status hearing in May.
Frazier’s mother, 89-year-old Eunice Lyles, said she learned her son could potentially be released early when she read about his case last week in the Chicago Sun-Times.
“It would mean a whole lot to me because I got old and I would love for him to be home,” she said in an interview after the hearing.
Frazier’s family said neither the state’s attorney’s office nor the Winston and Strawn law firm that will be representing the defendants pro bono had reached out to them.
In announcing the new initiative last week, Foxx only specifically said that her office would contact victims and their families, who would be able to make their own recommendation and speak at a resentencing hearing.
“We are communicating with Mr. Frazier’s defense counsel,” a Foxx spokeswoman said Wednesday. “Additionally, we have reached out to all the victims on these initial cases. We are unable to further comment.”
Frazier’s sister, Demita Lathan, said she’d like to show her brother some of the technology that’s come out in the 27 years he’s been incarcerated and introduce him to her grandchildren.
All five of the family members who showed up for Frazier’s hearing said a party would be held if he were released early — likely with a barbecue spread.
“I know he’s missing that,” Lathan said with a chuckle.
In addition to Frazier, prosecutors last week filed motions for resentencing for two other long-serving incarcerated men. Both are expected to appear in court Thursday.
Nothing in the law passed by the state restricts who is eligible for prosecutors to recommend for resentencing, though in Cook County Foxx said people convicted of murder or sex crimes will not be eligible.
Foxx said people who have served at least 10 years of a drug-related sentence, persons who are 65 or older and have served 20 years of their sentence, people who were under 21 at the time of their offense and have served at least 15 years and people who have served at least 10 years for a theft, robbery or burglary conviction will be prioritized.
Under the law, the court can consider the person’s disciplinary record while incarcerated, their current risk for future violence and their record of rehabilitation.