Chelsea Raker sentenced to 40 years in prison

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Chelsea Raker was sentenced to 40 years in prison Wednesday at the Rock Island County Courthouse.

Raker entered a guilty plea in October to a lesser charge for the death of 15-year-old Jescie Armstrong in April 2016

The 23-year-old was facing two murder charges, but through the plea deal, Raker was guilty of armed robbery. With a firearms enhancement, it carried a prison sentence of 26 to 45 years.

She needs to complete 34-years or 85 percent of her sentence before she is eligible for parole.

The prosecutors say, Ohio-native Raker, along with Kire Carr and Trey Gustafson, was at Armstrong’s house to buy marijuana.

Prosecutors say both Carr and Raker brought guns with them and eventually there was a struggle and Armstrong was shot in the head.

The state says there is reasonable doubt about who fired the fatal shot.  

Rock Island County State’s Attorney John McGehee said, “It was difficult to get the ultimate charge of first-degree due to the fact of the facts, and that’s why we moved forward with what we did.”

McGehee was pushing for the maximum sentence of 45 years, while the defense was asking for the minimum. 

For the family, they’re still trying to process the loss.

Jescie’s aunt Alison Armstrong said, “I was hoping for closure, but I don’t feel as those I got closure.”

For the family of Jescie, even though Raker will be behind bars for many years, they say it’s still difficult to accept that she will eventually be free and able to live her life.

“Jescie is taken away from us. We never get to see him again. Nothing.” Alison Armstrong said, “We get to go see a stone in the ground.”

The hearing serves as some solace, getting a chance to paint a picture of the 15-year-old who died in April 2016.

Alison Armstrong said, “He was very lovable, he was funny, he just would always make you laugh if you were down and out.”
Cousin Paula Duyvejonck said, “She had no idea who he was. She took a life that she had no idea who he is.”

Letters from Jescie’s mom and brother, who was with him when he was shot, were read aloud in court.
The teen’s aunt and grandmother also took the stand describing the impact of the loss.
His family admits Jescie made some mistakes but say that wasn’t a reason for him to die. 
Even though the hearing provided a change for the family to express what their feeling to Raker, it was the judge delivering some of the sharpest statements to the defendant. 

Judge Norma Kauzlarick said, “So, did you contemplate? Well, evidently you did, cause you carried a gun with. So, you did contemplate.”

In a letter to the judge, Raker says she’s remorseful for the choices she made that day and is looking to turn her life around. 
But for Jescie’s family, they say they’re still left wondering why.

Alison Armstrong said, “We lost a great kid, our family member. He had so many friends, and he’s never ever coming back, and she gets to go sit in prison.”

McGehee says now that Raker has been sentenced, he expected discussions with Carr and Gustafson’s attorneys to begin shortly. 

Both have hearings scheduled for early February.  

Local 4 News reporter Shawn Loging was live-tweeting details from the sentencing:

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