Lake County juvenile lifer resentenced
LAKE COUNTY — Due to state protocol requiring re-examination of juveniles sentenced to life without parole, a man who has been serving a life sentence for a murder case from 1986 was given a term-of-year sentence on Monday.
Richard Allen Simmons, 49, was convicted of criminal sexual assault and the stabbing death of 64-year-old Luther area resident Geraldine Grams at her home on Kings Highway in the spring of 1986. At the time of the murder, Simmons was 16-years-old and a sophomore at Pine River High School. He was sentenced to life without parole.
In a two-year re-sentencing process, Lake County Prosecutor Craig Cooper advocated Simmons receive life without parole, but the court ordered a term-of-year sentence.
“In the U.S. Supreme court case Miller vs. Alabama, from 2012, the court found if a person is 18 or younger, they are considered a juvenile, and the court is required to see if there are mitigating factors for those sentenced to life without parole,” Cooper said.
During the re-sentencing on Monday, Cooper read victim statements from the Grams family. Simmons extended an apology to the family.
Circuit Court Judge Susan Kasley Sniegowski gave Simmons a maximum of 60 years, the most which can be imposed under the Miller law, with eligibility for parole in 35 years. Sniegowski said Simmons acted alone during the crime without pressure from peers, and she raised concern about not knowing if he would commit crime again.
“Simmons will be eligible for parole after 35 years, and he will go through a parole board,” Cooper said. “They don’t have to release him. If he is released, he could be subject to parole up to 60 years, and the goal would be to heavily monitor him.
“The hardest part of this case was the victims thought they had justice once, when he received life without parole. Thirty years later, there is a whole re-litigation the victims have to go through. The family did a good job with their impact statements revealing the stress the crime had on the family. What was taken from them was the opportunity to say goodbye to Geraldine, who was described as a pillar in Luther — a tight-knit community.”