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Armed robber gets shorter sentence

Cecil: ‘No intent to hurt anyone’

Jacob Cecil
Jacob Cecil

DIXON – An armed robber got a shorter prison sentence Friday than he did the first time around.

Judge Jacquelyn Ackert handed down a 45-year sentence to Jacob N. Cecil, 33, who pleaded guilty in April to two 2006 armed robberies of Dixon convenience stores. He will serve at least 50 percent of the sentence.

In 2008, Cecil was sentenced for the same crimes to a 60-year term, but was required to serve 85 percent of that sentence. He already has been locked up for 6 years.

Cecil was granted the right to a new trial a year ago after Judge Ron Jacobson ruled that, at the time of the sentencing, Cecil was not properly informed about the 85 percent requirement.

At his hearing Friday, Cecil’s attorney, Anna Sacco-Miller, urged the judge to give her client a lesser prison sentence. But State’s Attorney Henry Dixon said the previous sentence was appropriate.

“I don’t see any basis for superseding what Judge Jacobson did,” he said.

Asked to speak, Cecil said he had seen violence in prison.

“I’ve been scared straight,” he said. “I’m definitely not the person I was 6 years ago.”

Just after midnight on June 9, 2006, Cecil, wearing a ski mask and carrying a sawed-off shotgun, robbed Stop-N-Go, 1100 E. River Road. A week later, he also used a sawed-off shotgun to hold up Hometown Pantry, 110 E. Seventh St.

On Thursday, the defendant’s character witnesses, including his mother, Mary Valdivia, testified that Cecil had turned to God and become a better man. At that hearing, Dixon presented a transcript from the 2008 sentencing hearing. The judge said she needed time to read it, resuming the hearing Friday.

On Friday, Cecil said that in 2008, he was “coming off” the influence of crack cocaine and exaggerated some things in his testimony at the sentencing hearing – for instance, his statements that he took a shotgun around town demanding money from people.

Cecil told the court he needed drug counseling.

“If I had been sober, I wouldn’t have made the choices I did,” Cecil said.

But he acknowledged he had been given more than a second chance.

Cecil also said he had no bullets in the gun when he robbed the convenience stores.

“I had no intent to hurt anyone,” he said.

The judge said she had considered all factors, including the transcript that Dixon submitted. She said Cecil was a threat to society, noting his previous convictions.

Cecil showed no emotion during sentencing.

When guards led him away, Cecil mouthed, “I love you,” to his mother.

His attorney, Sacco-Miller, said with time already served, Cecil’s sentence would amount to at least 21 years.

In 1998, Cecil was convicted in Whiteside County of two counts of burglary and one of armed robbery and was sentenced to 6 years in prison. In 2002, he was convicted of possession of meth-making materials and sentenced to 4 years.

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