ROLLING MEADOWS, Ill. — A Rolling Meadows man shot four times when two masked intruders invaded his residence in search of lottery winnings says he still worries about being home alone at night.
On Friday a Cook County judge sentenced one of his assailants to 23 years in prison.
Robert English, formerly of Berwyn, received the sentence Friday in exchange for his guilty plea to attempted first-degree murder, home invasion and aggravated battery with a firearm. All are class X felonies punishable by up to 30 years in prison. English, 35, must complete at least 85 percent of his sentence before he is eligible for parole. He received credit for 422 days he has spent in custody since his arrest.
English's co-defendant, 49-year-old Carmine Palella of Palatine, is scheduled to stand trial on the same charges beginning Monday in Rolling Meadows.
It all began about 1:12 a.m. on Sept. 6, 2009, when the victim's friend noticed a commotion outside the house and observed two individuals wearing dark clothes and masks attempting to enter the back door, said Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Mike Andre.
The individuals broke the window and door frame and entered the house, police said. During a struggle, the 42-year-old homeowner was shot four times, including two shots to the chest. He spent six days in the hospital, Andre said.
Andre said police later recorded Palella admitting he drove English and another person to the victim's house, pointed out the house and waited in the car for their return. Authorities say Palella was not aware he was being recorded at the time.
Rolling Meadows detective Phil Barrile interviewed English, who admitted he went to the house because Palella told him the victim, an Illinois State Lottery winner, had money there, Andre said. English also said he brought along a .25 caliber weapon and admitted firing it, Andre said.
English declined to speak at his sentencing. However, the homeowner and his friend, who prosecutors also named as a victim, told the court they supported the sentence.
"I believe it's a fair disposition," said Cook County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Fecarotta. "I'm impressed that you're stepping up to the plate and admitting your crimes... I don't know that I'm impressed with your criminal history."
English's extensive criminal background includes a 2006 conviction for attempted burglary, for which he was sentenced to 30 months in prison. He was sentenced to three years in a prison for a 2004 theft and six years for a 2000 armed robbery, Andre said. Prosecutors indicated English was convicted of bribery in 1998, for which he received a three-year sentence and boot camp, and defacing a firearm in 1997, resulting in a four-year sentence and boot camp. He also has several cases pending elsewhere in Cook County, Andre said.
The homeowner has recovered from his physical injuries, but he says his ability to trust other people remains impaired — especially since he once counted one of Palella's relatives among his best friends and has known the family for decades.
"I'm satisfied the plea deal was done," the other victim said of English. "But it never should have happened. He should have been off the streets 10 years ago."
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