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The County of DuPage
Wheaton, Illinois

Press Release

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Appellate Court Affirms Natural Life Sentence in 1995 Double Murder

DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert B. Berlin announced that on February 1, 2021, the Second District Appellate Court of Illinois affirmed the natural life sentence imposed by former DuPage County Circuit Court Judge George Bakalis upon convicted double murderer Joseph Arrieta, 43.

In March 1996, following a jury trial, Arrieta, then seventeen years-old, was found guilty of the double murder of Anthony Moore and Edward Riola. An investigation into the murders found that Arrieta shot both men multiple times at close range while they were drinking beer and playing cards in a Glendale Heights apartment. Riola was shot three times and Moore was shot six times. Additionally, the investigation found that when Moore was found to still be alive in a bedroom of the apartment after being shot, Arrieta returned to the bedroom and shot him again while he was lying on his back on the floor. At that time, Illinois law mandated a sentence of natural life in prison without the possibility of parole in the case of double murders. Consequently, Arrieta was sentenced to mandatory life imprisonment, as required by Illinois law. A Supreme Court decision in Miller v. Alabama in 2012, however, found that a mandatory sentence of natural life for those under the age of eighteen at the time of the crime violates the eighth amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment and that anyone under the age of eighteen sentenced to mandatory life in prison must receive a new sentencing hearing. In October 2017, following Arietta’s resentencing hearing, Judge Bakalis ruled that after careful consideration of all the relevant factors, as required by the U.S. Supreme Court in Miller v. Alabama, the “petitioner’s original sentence to natural life imprisonment was correct.”

In his appeal, Arrieta argued that the trial court erred in resentencing him to natural life in prison in that the trial court abused its discretion and also that the sentence imposed by Judge Bakalis was unconstitutional. In its affirmation, the Appellate Court noted that “a juvenile may be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole only if the trial court determines that the defendant’s conduct showed irretrievable depravity, permanent incorrigibility, or irreparable corruption beyond the possibility of rehabilitation.” In consideration of this, the Appellate Court found that “the trial court carefully weighed both the State’s and the defendant’s evidence of rehabilitation from the sentencing hearing” and that in doing so, “The trial court’s sentencing decision passes constitutional muster.” In its thirty-six-page decision, the Appellate Court also found that the trial court “did not abuse its discretion” on two issues raised by Arrieta concerning expert witness funding and Arrieta’s gang affiliation.

“I would like to thank the Appellate Court for their extremely thorough and detailed review of Mr. Arrieta’s claims,” Berlin said. “The constitutionality of a mandatory life sentence for a juvenile is addressed in Miller v. Alabama. After Mr. Arrieta’s resentencing hearing, the trial court found that Mr. Arrieta, while he was a juvenile at the time of the murders, certainly earned his life sentence behind bars. The Appellate Court agrees.”

Presiding Justice Bridges delivered the judgment of the Court with Justice Hutchinson and Justice Zenoff concurring.

Arrieta’s appeal was defended by Lisa Hoffman of the DuPage County State’s Attorney’s Criminal Appeals Division.