A convicted cocaine dealer, who was given a second chance when his life sentence was commuted by former President Obama in 2015 is back in prison on attempted murder charges after he shot a woman, leaving her brain-dead, cops say.
Alton Mills, 54, last made the news when Obama cut short his life sentence in 2015 after serving 22 years in jail for what were small time drugs offenses.
He received an sentence after being arrested in 1993 on federal conspiracy charges as part of a crack cocaine conspiracy.
His two previous convictions of possession of less than five grams of crack cocaine led to prosecutors filing a sentence enhancement, which saw him sentenced to life in prison without parole.
But he is now looking at another possible life sentence following an expressway shooting early on Sunday morning in the suburbs of Chicago. The victim, who has not been identified, is not expected to survive.
Alton Mills, 54, a former coke dealer whose life sentence was commuted by Obama in 2015, has been charged with three counts of attempted murder
In 2015, Democratic Illinois Senator Dick Durbin requested Mills’ sentence to be cut. Durbin described Mills as a low-level drug courier earning a weekly income of $300 when he was jailed decades earlier in 1994
It occurred in the small hours of the morning shortly after three friends left a nightclub in the south of the city.
The car the group were traveling in came up behind Mills’ SUV at a red light near the I-57 on-ramp in Posen, Illinois, but Mills did not move even after the light had turned green.
The driver of the other vehicle instead proceeded to pass him without even honking or shouting but Mills appeared to take affront.
He suddenly sped up to catch the car the friends were in and lowered his window before firing three shots from the drivers side, according to Assistant State’s Attorney Kathryn Morrissey, during Mills’ bail hearing.
One of the bullets struck a woman who had fallen asleep in the back seat of the car leading to a severe head injury from which she is now unlikely to recover.
So proud were the Obama administration at the time that he even posed with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren who served as a special advisor under Barack Obama
Senator Durbin brought Mills’ case to the attention of President Obama who then commuted his sentence after serving more than 22 years in jail
The front passenger of the vehicle told police that the shooter was an older black man with a salt and pepper beard and in the heat of the moment managed to capture a blurry photograph of the shooter’s license plate together with video in which she could be heard reading the license plate number out loud.
The driver of the car pulled over at a Chicago Fire Department station to call the police.
Illinois State Police quickly tracked down Mills after looking up his license plate number.
It led to a search of his home in Evergreen Park and car on Monday whereupon police found several loose 40-caliber bullets in his bedroom that matched that of the caliber used in the shooting. Mills’ car also tested positive for gunshot residue.
Mills admitted to being the shooter and being responsible for causing ‘great bodily harm and imminent death’ to the victim. He now faces three counts of attempted first-degree murder. He is being held without bond at Cook County Jail.
It was December 2015 when Democratic Illinois Senator Dick Durbin requested Mills’ sentence to be cut. Durbin described Mills as a low-level drug courier earning a weekly income of $300 when he was jailed in 1994.
He received a life sentence for cocaine trafficking due to it being his third felony conviction, even though his previous convictions did not result in prison time.
Alton Mills as seen in photos from his life from The Third Strike Campaign, a digital storytelling platform that tells the stories of men and women devastated by America’s 3 Strikes Drug Law
Mills s pictured at his stepdaughter’s graduation following his release from jail in 2015
Alton Mills with his granddaughter in a photo posted from May of last year
Mills is pictured with his parents, left and his wife after he was released from jail
The Obama administration began a clemency initiative for federal inmates – specifically non-violent, low-level offenders ‘who were sentenced at the height of the war on drugs and would likely receive substantially lower sentences today.’
So proud were the administration at the time that he even posed with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren who served as a special advisor under Barack Obama.
‘I hung out with a bunch of goldfishes that was dealing with some sharks, and the sharks caught the goldfishes up and we were the ones that ended up going to prison,’ Mils said in during an MSNBC interview following his release.
‘Mr. Mills is now 46 years old, and studies demonstrate that ex-offenders ‘age-out’ of crime and that recidivism rates decline dramatically with age,’ Durbin argued.
After his sentence was commuted by Obama, Mills’s defense attorney stated that he secured employment with the Chicago Transit Authority and actively campaigned against mandatory minimum sentencing.
A young Alton Mills is pictured with his parents and two younger siblings
Mills is picture with his younger sister, left, and with his mother, Marsha Mills, right, in photos from his Facebook page
Durbin portrayed Mills as a ‘neglected casualty’ of the ‘war on drugs’ and he was invited to speak at a U.S. Senate criminal justice forum by the senator.
Following his release, Mills expressed remorse and explained that he had associated with individuals involved in drug-related activities.
He also highlighted that studies indicate a decline in recidivism rates and criminal behavior as individuals age.
Durbin also argued that Mills had shown significant personal growth during his time in prison and had substantial community support awaiting him in Chicago.
Durbin also noted that the federal judge who originally sentenced Mills to life behind bars also believed it was an excessive punishment.
‘The life story of Chicagoan Alton Mills shows why we need to pass the #FirstStepAct,’ Durbin tweeted three years after Mills’ release in 2018. ‘Alton, who received a pardon from President Obama in 2015, was destined to spend his life in prison. He’s now a contributing member of society. #cjreform’
Mills was portrayed as a ‘neglected casualty’ of the ‘war on drugs’ and invited to speak at a U.S. Senate criminal justice forum by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin. He is seen speaking in 2016
Judge Marvin Aspen who originally sentenced Mills backed Durbin’s clemency request giving his opinion on the matter stating that he believed Mills would be ‘a good role model’
After leaving prison, Mills who had no money, state ID, or job worked a mechanic for the City of Chicago before more recently working as a janitor
After leaving prison, Mills who had no money, state ID, or job worked a mechanic for the City of Chicago before more recently working as a janitor.
He married the love of his life spent time with his young granddaughter and was said to be ‘contributing society’.
In Congress, Durbin cited Mills’ example of commutation as giving him a second chance at life. ‘He’s now a contributing member of society,’ Mills state.
U.S. District Court Judge Marvin Aspen, during Mills’ 1994 sentencing hearing, stated that he would have chosen a different sentence if he had the freedom to do so.
22 years later Judge Aspen backed Durbin’s clemency request giving his opinion on the matter.
‘If I were free to sentence [Mr. Mills] … it would be for something other than life,’ he wrote in favor of Mills’ release.
‘If Mr. Mills does what I think he’s going to do, I think five years from now you’ll see he has not committed any crimes, he’ll be working regularly, he’ll be interacting with his family, and he’ll be a role model for a lot of people who have come out of the penitentiary with the good attitude that he has,’ Aspen wrote.