Man gets 55 years for murder
By James Fuller
Peter Grens sat motionless in tan prison scrubs Wednesday as he awaited his sentence for murdering his best friend.
He wore the same stoic expression he maintained throughout the trial in which he was convicted of the first-degree murder of 32-year-old Louis Kehrer in October 2002 over an alleged $20,000 debt.
After all the reasons for and against a long sentence were presented, Grens, 45, had one last chance to repent. Three of Grens’ 10 siblings nuzzled close on their bench as their brother made his offering.
“I’d like to apologize for the wrong that I did,” Grens, of Bartlett, told a packed courtroom. “I’m sorry for all the pain. I don’t know what else to say.”
The dryly delivered statement proved too little, too late.
“From a law-abiding citizen you became a cold, calculating murderer,” responded Cook County Judge Thomas P. Fecarotta Jr. “I believe Mr. Grens deserves a harsh sentence. As I look at him, I’m not so sure he’s sorry.”
Fecarotta then sentenced Grens to 55 years in prison. Grens received 30 years for the murder and an additional 25 years for using a gun as the murder weapon.
Grens pumped seven shots into Kehrer’s head and torso as the victim sat at his desk in an Arlington Heights tool and die shop. He used a .357 Magnum handgun, reloading once to deliver a head shot while Kehrer collapsed onto the floor.
The sentence calmed several members of Kehrer’s family, including his parents, brother and fiancee, who cried quietly together in the gallery throughout much of the sentencing. Several family members read statements to the court about the pain and difficulty of raising Kehrer’s children without him.
Kehrer, of Streamwood, had two sons: Gavin, 1, conceived with his fiancee, and Jacob, 10, from his first marriage. Jacob has received counseling to help him accept his father’s death. He still does not speak of it openly, according to his mother.
Kehrer’s older brother, Bill, unleashed his anger on Grens.
“You are, in one word, a murderer,” Bill Kehrer said. “My only hope is that you are incarcerated for the rest of your miserable life.”
Outside the courtroom, Kehrer’s relatives smiled and embraced prosecutors, rejoicing in the sentence.
“Considering Pete’s age, it’s basically life in prison,” said William Kehrer, Louis’ father. “We’re glad it’s over.”