Judge reimposes 79-year prison sentence, but with parole, for 'depraved' Aurora killer
A Kane County judge Tuesday refused to lessen the 79-year sentence of an Aurora man who at 15 raped and murdered a neighbor in 2001.
But Judge D.J. Tegeler ruled that Joshua Minniti, now 35, may apply for parole after serving at least 20 years of his sentence.
"That is the chance that you are being given at this point," Tegeler told Minniti, after finding that the judge who handed down the original sentence was correct in determining the teen to be incorrigible, irreparably depraved and highly unlikely to be rehabilitated.
Minniti was found guilty in 2004 of first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault and home invasion. He had been sentenced to six years on each of the assault and home invasion charges, to be served consecutively, and 61 years for the murder, without eligibility for parole.
But in 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in another case that giving what amounts to de facto life sentences without possibility of parole to juveniles is unconstitutional, except in rare circumstances.
Minniti asked to have his sentence redone. And in 2019, a new state law said people who are younger than 21 when they receive life sentences are eligible to apply for parole after 20 years.
Minniti broke into 57-year-old Irma Brauhouse's home with a stolen crowbar late at night in October 2001 and went to a bedroom where she was sleeping. He beat her with the crowbar, restrained her with handcuffs, raped her twice, then continued to beat and stab her, prosecutors said. Joseph Cullen, one of the original prosecutors, told Tegeler that Minniti hit the woman more than 20 times.
Minniti was arrested about a year later. He still had the handcuffs, Cullen said.
His stepmother, sister and three state prison workers testified Tuesday on his behalf. Minniti has become a barber while in prison, and he mentors other prisoners in a program designed to prepare them for life after prison.
The stepmother and sister also testified Minniti had been subject to physical and mental abuse in his early years. Court reports indicate he started drinking alcohol at age 10, started smoking marijuana around 14, and also took cocaine and LSD.
Minniti faced Braun's relatives and friends in the gallery.
"I don't deserve anyone's forgiveness," he said. "I'm not up here saying that I should go home. Not 10 years from now. I'm just asking that the journey, the path I'm on, that maybe one day I can be considered for that chance."
Tegeler said Minniti in 2004 met the standards for a no-parole sentence: permanent incorrigibility, little likelihood of rehabilitation and irreparable depravity. The attack was not impetuous, as a defense psychiatrist wrote, Tegeler said. Bringing the crowbar and the handcuffs showed intent.
"Does it take a depraved mind to take an individual like that, covered in blood, and then, while she is barely clinging to life, rape her twice? Yes," Tegeler said.