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Peru man sentenced for Christmas crime spree

Perpetrator does not ask for short sentence — requests time and treatment

Molina
Molina

OTTAWA — A Peru man was sentenced Thursday to 16 years in prison for a Christmas 2018 crime spree in which he broke into a home and fled from police in a stolen car.

When offered a chance to speak, 47-year-old Willie A. Molina Jr., apologized to Judge Cynthia M. Raccuglia and admitted he failed to overcome a long and well-documented drug problem during his previous trips to prison. He did not ask for a sentence near the 6-year minimum for his sentencing range.

Instead, Molina asked for a mid-range sentence long enough to get the drug treatment plus after-care that he required.

“It just kills me that my children are so mad at me,” Molina said, breaking into tears. “My addiction just took me.

“Heroin is a horrendous addiction and it’s so bad out here.”

Raccuglia acknowledged Molina’s remorsefulness but said she couldn’t look past his lengthy criminal record — he had pleaded to felonies No. 10 and 11 — and inability to get help without incarceration.

With nearly 500 days credit for time served, and a shot at day-for-day good time, Molina could be released in late 2027.

Molina was taken into custody Christmas Eve after Peru police officers responded to reports of a hit-and-run accident at First and Fulton streets.

When the officers arrived, they found damage to a street sign and pole and soon observed the suspect vehicle at Calhoun and Market streets. Molina did not halt the vehicle until after he struck a curb, at which point he led police on a foot chase before being apprehended. Police traced the 2002 Toyota he was driving to a home on Peru’s west side, which had been burglarized.

Molina was charged with three felonies plus driving under the influence and assorted traffic charges. With nine prior adult felony convictions, he was deemed eligible for Class X sentencing of 6-30 years in prison. He entered a blind plea in August in an exchange for an 18-year cap, but then tried to back out of the plea.

Thursday, Molina withdrew his motion to vacate the guilty plea. He and Ottawa defense attorney Ryan Hamer asked for 10 years, citing his remorse, guilty plea and minor children, as well as the fact no injuries resulted from the break-in or police pursuit.

“We’re suggesting 18 years is a little steep,” Hamer said.

But assistant La Salle County state’s attorney Jeremiah Adams asked for 18 years, saying a deterrent sentence was necessary in light not only of Molina’s lengthy record but the severity of past crimes, including a pair of residential burglaries.

Adams said, however, the state had no objection to the finding that Molina needed drug treatment while incarcerated.

“It’s obvious to everyone here that Mr. Molina has a drug problem that he has not addressed in any manner to keep him from committing offenses,” he said.

Tom Collins can be reached at (815) 220-6930 or TCollins@shawmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_Court.

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