BLOOMINGTON — A man accused of forever changing the lives of a Bloomington couple, including a victim shot several times, was sentenced Friday to 65 years in prison in connection with a violent home invasion.
Alfred Walker, 41, of Bloomington was convicted in July of home invasion and armed robbery in a November 2016 incident in which three suspects forced their way into a home on the city's south side.
Suspected accomplice Jamal Parks died in Chicago after the armed robbery, and a third suspect has not been arrested.
In a victim impact statement read in court by First Assistant State's Attorney Brad Rigdon, Darla Powell described the horror that unfolded for her and her husband, Kevin, in their home after she answered the door for a man pretending to be a pizza delivery driver.
November 9, 2016, was "an ordinary day that turned out to be one that forever changed us," she wrote.
When Kevin Powell arrived home, he was pistol-whipped and shot three times. His wife was restrained with duct tape and locked in the trunk of her car in the garage.
Kevin Powell suffered permanent injuries to his leg, and his wife was forced to stop working to care for him, according to the letter.
"I can forgive the act ... but I will never forgive you," Darla Powell told Walker in the statement.
Rigdon asked for a total of 80 years on the charges and $80,498 restitution for the victims' expenses.
"It's telling that gun violence in this community has been a problem," Rigdon told Judge Casey Costigan, adding that stiff sentences for crimes like the one Walker was involved in "can stem the tide" of violence.
After the sentencing, Rigdon said, "I hope the 65-year sentence can give some closure to the victims and hope the sentence sends a message that gun violence will not be tolerated in McLean County."
Defense lawyer Michael Herzog sought the minimum sentence of 48 years on the charges. Herzog acknowledged that "a terrible crime happened to the Powells," but argued that sending Walker to prison for what is effectively a life sentence will not deter the young offenders who are likely to be charged with gun crimes.
Herzog urged the judge to "sentence the man in front of you."
Walker maintained his innocence of the charges in his remarks to the judge.
"These kind of charges are not the kind of charges I do, or commit. Do not sentence me to die for a crime I did not commit," Walker told the judge.
The judge said he was convinced that Walker was present at the Powells' home but not that Walker was necessarily "the trigger man" during the armed robbery. All three suspects are equally liable for the crime, the judge told Walker.
Costigan said he took into account a letter of support he received for Walker and the large number of people who attended the sentencing hearing on Walker's behalf.
The judge said the incident at the Powells' home was likely "a situation that got well out of control" for the suspects who had targeted Kevin Powell.
Walker must serve 85 percent of the sentence. He will receive credit for 513 days served in jail.