Graves pleads guilty and is sentenced to 15 years in Sandra Tate death


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Originally Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2013, 11:40 am
Last Updated: Jan. 25, 2013, 1:20 pm
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By Rachel Warmke, rwarmke@qconline.com

Jeremy Charles Graves, 26, of Davenport, pleaded guilty Friday to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 15 years in prison for running over Sandra Tate, 43, of Rock Island, last  September. 

In exchange for his guilty plea, counts of first-degree murder, aggravated battery of a police officer, failure to report a fatal accident, and a second charge of second-degree murder were dismissed, records state.

Mr. Graves, who has been incarcerated since the incident, will receive day-for-day credit and credit for time served.

According to prior court testimony, Mr. Graves went to a home in the 900 block of 15th Street, Rock Island, on Sept. 19, to pick up his child. When residents declined to let him in, Mr. Graves allegedly broke in through a back door, and a fight started that spilled into the yard. 

Mr. Graves then got into a running vehicle parked on 15th Street, and began driving in circles.

Witnesses called police, and responding officers testified they heard people screaming as they arrived. A camera in a police squad car recorded Mr. Graves aiming the vehicle towards a group of people in the street.

Ms. Tate, who was standing in the group, reportedly shoved several children out of the way before being hit by the oncoming vehicle.

Mr. Graves drove from the scene, and eventually crashed into a trailer on 9th Street, where he was arrested.

Ms. Tate died the following day at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City.

Rock Island County Assistant State's Attorney Jim Wozniak and defense attorney Herbert Schultz said they were satisfied with the second-degree murder conviction, which held a range of penalties of four to 20 years.

"This is really a case of intent," Mr. Schultz said. "It's kind of a classic law school type of question; it's not a question of 'if' someone is guilty, it's 'of what?'"

Second-degree murder implies the act was not premeditated and may have been the result of heightened emotions. The attorneys said Mr. Graves appeared angry and injured after the Sept. 19 fight. 

"When tempers flair and emotions can't be controlled, bad things happen, and this is a perfect example of that," Mr. Schultz said.

"This was one where I was very confident that I could get a second-degree murder conviction,"  Mr. Wozniak said. "I was not that confident that I would get a first-degree murder conviction."

He said that if the case had gone to trial, other factors, such as the fight or whether Mr. Graves had been intoxicated, might have prompted a judge or jury to consider a lesser conviction, such as reckless homicide or involuntary manslaughter.

"Obviously, nothing that could happen will bring their loved one back," Mr. Wozniak said, adding that Ms. Tate's death was even more difficult on her relatives because many of them knew Mr. Graves before the incident.  

"They not only lost a loved one, but also lost someone they knew." 














 



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  Today is Friday, April 18, the 108th day of 2014. There are 257 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: A new steamer, Keithsburg, now is at our levee taking on board the balance of her fixtures preparatory to assuming her position on the daily Rock Island and Keokuk line.
1889 -- 125 years ago: C.W. Hawes was appointed deputy county clerk by county clerk Donaldson.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Mrs. O.E. child, of Moline, was named president of the Women's Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Church Rock Island District of the Central Illinois conference.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Augustana College is making plans for a drive for funds to erect a field house and make football field improvements.
1964 -- 50 years ago: A expanded election coverage system featuring a 16-foot chalkboard showing up to the minute running totals, attracted a large and enthusiastic crowd to The Argus newsroom last night.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Balloons frame Rock Island attorney Stewart Winstein who was given a surprise party in the rotunda of the Rock Island County Courthouse on Thursday to honor his 50th year of practicing law.




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