As he considered how long a Waukegan man should spend in prison for murdering a cabdriver four years ago, a Lake County judge heard appeals Tuesday from relatives of both the victim and the convicted killer, as well as an apology from the gunman.
But perhaps most jarring for those assembled in the crowded courtroom was the voice of the dead man himself — heard on a 911 call that he made after he’d been shot multiple times and had his attacker pinned down.
“Please,” Patrick Foster repeated during the six-minute call, “I don’t want to die.”
Foster, who was also able to call his wife, Maria, that night in Zion four years ago, died from his injuries about two months later. He was 45.
His killer, Darryel Garner, was sentenced to 47 years in prison — two years longer than the minimum he could have received — after telling Judge James Booras that he wanted “to apologize to the court, to the family (because) I made a big mistake. I was not living as my lord wishes me to live.”
In statement read on behalf Foster’s widow, the Park City man was described as “the best daddy in the world” and “an honest, simple, strong, hardworking man who loved life and respected every human being.”
“He was our happiness, and we depended on him to live,” the statement read. “I feel destroyed, only half of my being is here.”
After the hearing, Maria Foster said of the sentence: “Nothing will satisfy me. I hope in time (Garner) will turn into a good man.”
As the 911 tape was played, a large group of Foster supporters in the courtroom linked arms, and many sobbed.
Garner, 42, also shed tears, wiping them away on his shirt, as his mother and grandmother spoke on his behalf.
Seeking to minimize his sentence, Garner’s supporters and lawyers spoke of hardships he’s faced. Among them, he was born to a teenage mother, was labeled “slow” in school and placed in special education and, more recently, had lost a job in the recession.
Prosecutors, however, noted that Foster, too, had recently been laid off from a trucking job at the time of the shooting. Instead of turning to crime, though, he started driving a cab to support his family.
They also noted that Garner, intending to rob Foster, didn’t give him a chance to hand over his money peacefully. Instead, prosecutors said, Garner simply started shooting Foster without warning, intending to steal his money and flee.
A Foster family friend, Joe Hernandez, stood with one of Foster’s children after the sentencing and said: “It doesn’t matter if it was 100 years or 47 years. This young man doesn’t have his dad.”
Garner, who pleaded guilty to the murder last month, is expected to serve his entire sentence but will get credit for the four years he spent in jail awaiting trial.