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Daily Journal
     February 24, 2020      #43-55 KDJ

Man sentenced to 60 years in 2011 murder 

KANKAKEE — Dannie L. Kendrick Jr. has been sentenced to 60 years in prison in the murder of Joseph “Joe Buck” Buckner III.

A Kankakee County jury found the 27-year-old Kankakee man guilty of murder and armed robbery in the November 2011 death that occurred in the 600 block of South Lincoln Avenue in Kankakee.

State’s Attorney Jim Rowe argued that Kendrick be sentenced to the maximum 60 years for the murder charge.

Defense attorney Ben Lawson argued the sentence be the minimum, 20 years because of Kendricks’ troubled childhood and the fact that he has learned to control his anger and stress while incarcerated.

“There is no sentence I can give that will take away your grief,” Judge Kathy Bradshaw-Elliott told Buckner’s family and friends who attended the four-hour sentencing hearing.

“The evidence is consistent that the defendant had a gun and Joseph Buckner tried to grab it and he was shot multiple times,” she said. “All of this and your talk of being rehabilitated, I don’t see that happening.”

Kendrick told the judge he would appeal the sentence, with his attorneys Dawn Landwehr and Ben Lawson planning to file a motion for resentencing.

Kendrick has maintained he did not murder and rob Buckner, saying he made a false confession to police.

The crime

Owner of A Kut Above barber shop and well-known in the community, the 32-year-old Buckner was robbed of $250 and shot four times in front of his South Lincoln Avenue home on Nov. 25, 2011.

Kendrick and his cousin, Ricky J. Kendrick Jr., 27, were both charged in the case.

During the trial, Ricky Kendrick testified they originally were in the neighborhood to break into a home but the plan changed. He had known Buckner most of his life. He is serving a 15-year sentence after he pleaded guilty in August 2014 to armed robbery with a dangerous weapon. He originally was charged with murder.

The hearing

Before she announced her decision, Bradshaw-Elliott listened to impact statements from members of Buckner’s family, testimony from three of Dannie Kendrick’s siblings, a cousin and Kendrick himself. There also were statements from a psychologist and arguments from the attorneys.

The statements from Buckner’s family touched on how the close-knit family has struggled since his death.

“I don’t remember my dad,” said Jordan Buckner, 10, the youngest of Buckner’s three daughters. She was 2 when he was murdered.

“My dad deserves justice,” she said. “Please give our family that today.”

Buckner’s wife, Tiffany, said, “All we want is to hug him.”

“You have destroyed our family,” she said to Kendrick.

Dr. James Garabino, a professor of psychiatry at Loyola University in Chicago, testified for the defense. He specializes in developmental psychiatry, which is the study of a person from birth into adulthood.

Garabino interviewed Kendrick and read over the pre-sentence investigation prepared on Kendrick.

Physical beatings Kendrick incurred as a child from adults had an adverse effect on Kendrick, Garabino said. He added that Kendrick shows he is controlling his anger issues and would continue to rehabilitate himself while in prison and after, if he were released.

Defense attorney Landwehr spoke of Kendrick’s childhood in detail. He said in addition to suffering physical abuse from a family member, Kendrick lived in 16 places, including foster care homes, before he was 18 years old.

Landwehr asked Kendrick how he is controlling his anger. Kendrick said he meditates, which he said he learned from reading more than 2,000 books while awaiting his trial. Among the subjects were spirituality and psychology. He also said he is mentoring younger prisoners.

When asked what he would do after getting out of prison, Kendrick said he wanted to write books, make friends and make movies.

After testifying, Kendrick read a statement.

“I want to be a builder of community, not destroy it,” he said.

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Jeff Bonty
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