Antonio Sanchez was seventeen years old when he shot and killed nineteen year old Madison Finch in Illinois. According to court documents Madison Finch was hosting a New Years Eve party at her parents home when Antonio Sanchez walked up to the door and fatally shot Madison. The teen killer would plead guilty to murder in exchange for a lighter sentence. Antonio Sanchez would be sentenced to twenty years in prison
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Antonio Sanchez More News
Madison Finch was the primary victim when Antonio Sanchez shot and killed her during a New Year’s Eve party in La Harpe, Illinois. But she wasn’t the only one.
“You changed our lives forever, and not just us,” Finch’s mother, Carrie Finch, told Sanchez during a court hearing Wednesday. “Because of you, an entire community lost its innocence that night.”
Sanchez probably will lose at least 16 years of freedom as a result.
Inside a packed courtroom, Hancock County Circuit Judge Raymond Cavanaugh sentenced Antonio Sanchez, 18, to concurrent 20-year state-prison sentences for second-degree murder and home invasion.
Sanchez’s guilty plea was negotiated. The Hamilton, Illinois, resident had been charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of aggravated battery in the death of Finch, 19, who was killed early Jan. 1 at her La Harpe residence.
“Your family is affected by this, and my heart goes out to them,” said Cavanaugh, who struggled to maintain his composure as he addressed Sanchez. “Because they never intended to raise a murderer. And they have.”
During a hearing in April, Sanchez pleaded not guilty. Jury selection for his trial began Monday.
But Tuesday, with eight jurors selected and potential ones being interviewed, the prosecution and defense agreed to substitute charges that carried a lesser penalty. The previous maximum was tantamount to a life sentence.
“The facts of this case required the careful consideration of the loss of life to Maddie based on the irreparable acts of the defendant,” Hancock County State’s Attorney Rachel Mast stated in a news release she issued following the hearing.
Sanchez waived his right to a trial. Clad Wednesday in a two-toned-gray, horizontal-striped jail jumpsuit, he sat unemotional and mostly silent during the hearing. It lasted about 70 minutes.
Based on sentencing guidelines and time already served, Sanchez probably will be about 34 when he’s eligible for release.
“I was able to tell him, ‘You have a life to live when you’re done,’” said Sanchez’s attorney, Quincy-based Drew Schnack. “If you go to trial and lose … assuming you live that long, you’re not going to have any life to live.”
In front of Cavanaugh and at least 100 others gathered on the third floor of the Hancock County Courthouse, Sanchez appeared to realize that.
“I have not done much with my life,” he said in remarks that took less than a minute to deliver. “A man has to take responsibility for his life. From now on, I have to make the best of a bad situation.”
The situation apparently has been beyond horrible for Finch’s family since the morning Madison Finch, a freshman at Illinois State University, was shot in the back of her head.
Carrie Finch addressed the court following a victim statement from her other child, daughter Josie. Husband and father Jason Finch spoke afterward.
The Finches extolled their slain daughter’s virtues, including a love for animals, big trucks, sushi, false eyelashes and the downtrodden in life.
“She had a future,” said Carrie Finch, who sobbed almost constantly through her testimony. “She was going to make a difference.”
Jason Finch’s address was direct and defiant. He said the contrast with his wife’s statement was a good-cop, bad-cop situation.
“You don’t know the meaning of tough,” Jason Finch told Sanchez. “Tough? Hell, you’re looking at three of the toughest people you’ll ever see in your life.”
The case had been publicized heavily in Hancock County, where murders are rare. Much of the community in La Harpe, home to about 1,200 people, had rallied around the Finches.
Save for five apparent members of Sanchez’s family, almost the entire gallery Wednesday consisted of Finch supporters. That was typical attendance for Sanchez’s hearings.
In June, Schnack had requested a change of venue for the trial. That request was denied. Schnack suggested no trial and the plea bargain were for the best.
“The community didn’t need to go through this,” he said. “Nobody did.