Glasgow Announces Rockett Sentenced to 12 Years in Fatal 2021 Shooting of Girlfriend

December 6, 2023

 JOLIET— Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow announces that Ben Rockett, 71, of Joliet, was sentenced Wednesday to 12 years in prison in the 2021 shooting death of Sonja Underwood. Rockett pled guilty to Armed Habitual Criminal (a class X felony) before Circuit Judge Carmen Goodman. 

On the evening of March 30, 2021, Rockett and girlfriend Underwood had been drinking with two friends at their residence on the 200 block of South Illinois Street in Joliet. After the friends left, Rockett and Underwood got into an argument that led to a physical confrontation. Rockett proceeded to retrieve a gun from underneath his bed. At that point, the two began scuffling over the weapon and the gun went off. Underwood was fatally injured by the single gunshot to her face which entered her head at the chin and exited the rear. Rockett and Underwood had been together for approximately three years at the time of the shooting. Rockett’s niece Carrie Barefield called the Joliet Police Department the following morning at 6:44 a.m., informing them that Underwood had been shot during a domestic dispute. Rockett, a convicted felon, did not have a valid FOID card. 

“The tragic fatal shooting of Sonja Underwood underscores the deadly intersection between guns and domestic violence. Abusers with firearms are five times more likely to kill their female victims,” Glasgow said. “This convicted felon should never have had a firearm in his possession. Everyone has the human right to live in safety and to be free from violence and abuse.” 

Rockett’s sentence will be served at 85 percent. He will receive 980 days credit for time served. 

Glasgow commended Assistant States Attorney Mark Fleszewski as well as Victim Witness Advocates Elizabeth Ruiz and Jessica Gil for their hard work in this case.