Terry Bratcher, 45, was found guilty of first-degree murder, home invasion and armed robbery in the August 2009 death of Carl Kuhn, 82, at his Bartlett house.
Bratcher and a Chicago man named Keith Allen were alleged to have forced Kuhn’s head into a pillow until he died and then stole more than 40 guns from Kuhn’s collection. Allen pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced in April to 46 years in prison.
According to testimony, Bratcher had done some automotive work for Kuhn and had been his legal client. On the day of the murder, police said, Bratcher made arrangements to see Kuhn, and then used his cell phone to signal Allen, who was outside Kuhn’s house. He then came in armed with a pistol and wearing a mask and sunglasses.
Police say that on the following day they found more than 40 firearms belonging to Kuhn in the garage of the house Bratcher shared with his mother.
After his arrest, Bratcher told police that, at Allen’s direction, he briefly straddled Kuhn’s back and held his face down, but couldn’t go through with suffocating him and left the room with the old man still alive. Allen, he contended, finished the murder.
State’s Attorney Robert Berlin asked jurors to consider the last moments of Kuhn’s life.
“What was going through Carl Kuhn’s mind … as these two men straddled and suffocated him?” he said.
Berlin also said that regardless of Bratcher’s claim, under the law he would still be considered accountable for Kuhn’s death.
“Hold him responsible for what he did,” Berlin said. “That’s what the law requires and what justice demands.”
The jurors also found that Bratcher’s acts were indicative of wanton cruelty. That means he is eligible for an extended sentence over the normal 20-60 year range for first-degree murder, up to natural life in prison.