Murder charges against 14-year-old suspect dismissed, moved back to juvenile court

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. — Charges against the 14-year-old Peoria murder suspect have been dropped in court, after a Friday hearing to move his case from juvenile to adult court.

The suspect, Zaveon R. Marks, faced two counts of first-degree murder and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm after the fatal shooting of 16-year-old Zarious Fair back in mid-June. Last month, a Peoria County judge found it was more appropriate to move the incident from juvenile court and Marks was eventually charged as an adult.

In court Friday, prosecutors said Marks’ case would be transferred back to juvenile court. This comes after his attorney, William Loeffel, recently asked for his client to be re-arraigned at the end of August. Loeffel said there were many factors prosecutors should consider. He filed a petition, citing several statutes that he said should be considered when considering possible sentences for Marks.

Friday, prosecutors ultimately dismissed the charges against the teenager. Also, the indictment in the case was dismissed.

Juvenile court can determine the appropriate potential term of the defendant’s term as an adult. Marks was immediately taken back to said court, and was brought before the judge.

Between the two murder charges and one unlawful possession charge, Marks was potentially facing more than 60 years in prison.

Marks’ attorney, William Loeffel, had asked for his client to be re-arraigned at the end of August, saying there many factors to consider. He filed a petition, citing several statutes that he said should be considered when considering possible sentences for Marks.

Loeffel had asked that Marks be arraigned under the “special provisions for an accused minor under 18 years of age prosecuted as an adult.”

He cites Illinois Supreme Court case People v. Buffer, a case from April of this year which found “In determining when a juvenile defendant’s prison term is long enough to be considered de facto life without parole, we choose to draw the line at 40 years… [a] prison sentence of 40 years or less imposed on a juvenile offender provides some meaningful opportunity to obtain release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation.”

The court explained a sentence of over 40 years can only be imposed if the court finds the defendant’s conduct showed irretrievable depravity, permanent incorrigibility or irreparable corruption beyond the possibility of rehabilitation.

Loeffel then references a U.S. Supreme Court Case from 2012 in which Justices found, imposing on a juvenile offender a mandatory sentence of life without the possibility of parole, without consideration of the defendant’s youth and its attendant characteristics, violated the Eighth Amendment. 

Within the ruling, it says the [14-year-old] defendant’s sentencing was greater than 40 years, which is considered a de facto life sentence.

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