Naperville man gets prison in taxi hijacking

<p>Maruice A. Martin / Photo from Aurora police</p>

Maruice A. Martin / Photo from Aurora police

A Naperville man who conceded he was having “a bad day” while hijacking a taxicab last summer had an even worse day Wednesday, when he was sentenced to 14 years in prison for that crime.

Maurice A. Martin, 35, last lived in an apartment complex on the 700 block of Inland Circle, in the Country Lakes area of Naperville’s far northwest side. He pleaded guilty in Kane County Circuit Court to a Class X felony charge of aggravated vehicular hijacking in the Fourth of July incident, in which the cab driver’s neck was slashed.

Judge Susan Clancy Boles on Wednesday accepted Martin’s plea and imposed the 14-year prison term, according to court records. Companion charges of aggravated battery, possession of a stolen motor vehicle and aggravated fleeing and eluding were dismissed in exchange for Martin’s plea, records showed.

The then-39-year-old driver for Eagle Taxi Co. told Sun-Times Media West last summer nothing appeared to be out of the ordinary around 4:45 a.m. July 4, when he picked Martin up at a service station near North Aurora Road and Route 59 in Naperville.

Martin asked the cabbie to take him to the Hollywood Casino Aurora, the driver recalled. While en route, Martin said he would need to stop at a gas station on the 600 block of North Broadway Avenue in Aurora, so that he could make change for a $100 bill.

When he return to the cab, Martin told the driver he had changed his mind about the casino, and wanted to go somewhere else. A short time later, the driver stopped the taxi near Spring Street and North Fourth Street, where he and Martin argued about exactly where Martin was headed.

Aurora police said Martin at that point pulled out a sharp object, reportedly a broken, plastic license plate frame, and held it to the driver’s neck.

“It happened so fast, I don’t know what he was holding,” the driver said. He said he realized his neck had been cut, although the wound proved to be relatively minor.

The driver said he leaped out of the still-moving cab, which hit a car and then came to a stop. Martin at that point jumped into the front seat and sped away on Spring Street.

Before departing, Martin “said he had a bad day,” the cabbie recalled.

Martin remained free for half the day, until an off-duty Forest Preserve District of DuPage County police officer saw the stolen taxi near Butterfield Road and Route 59 in the Warrenville area. Naperville and Warrenville police then began pursuing Martin and the cab.

Aurora police took up the chase near North Aurora Road and Route 59.

Upon reaching Benton Avenue in Aurora, police learned an Illinois State Police airplane was in the area, and had a clear view of the cab. Police ended the chase and dumped spiked “stop sticks” in Martin’s path, which burst one of the taxi’s tires.

Martin surrendered near Ohio Street and Harriet Avenue, and was taken into custody without further incident.