APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Kane County; the Hon. JOHN S.
PETERSEN, Judge, presiding.
MR. JUSTICE ABRAHAMSON DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
The questions presented are: (1) Whether the trial court, in accepting a guilty plea to an indictment for murder, adequately admonished the defendant by personally informing him of the minimum sentence prescribed by law; and (2) whether the sentence of 15 to 25 years imposed by the court was excessive.
Defendant was indicted for the crimes of murder and attempted murder. (It should be pointed out at the outset that no question is raised by defendant as to the propriety of the admonishment of the court on the plea of guilty of attempted murder, or of the 15 year sentence which was to run concurrently.)
At his arraignment on both indictments defendant was represented by counsel of his own choice, an eminent and experienced trial lawyer. Defendant pleaded not guilty and demanded a jury trial. At that hearing the court asked defendant and his counsel whether the defendant was advised of "the nature and range of punishment, murder carries with it the maximum penalty of death", and that attempted murder is one to twenty years. Defendant answered, "Yes, sir."
Later that day, after consulting further with his counsel, they again appeared before the judge and moved to waive jury trial. After defendant assured the court that he was aware of "the effect of waiving a right of a trial by a jury, which is a personal right," and that defendant concurred in his attorney's recommendation to waive jury trial, the court granted defendant's motion and set the case for trial.
The record indicates that when the case came on for trial on December 16, 1970, the court inquired as to defendant's age, schooling, armed services and war record, whether he was ever in a mental hospital, a user of narcotic drugs, or an habitual alcoholic, and explained that he was doing so "to make certain you are in full possession of your faculties and know what you are doing", and that defendant was "competent mentally." The court then inquired whether defendant's counsel (whom he referred to as "a fomer State's Attorney" and "former Attorney General, assistant, anyway") had explained to defendant his rights of a trial by jury or a trial before the court, that "murder carries with it the maximum penalty of death" and that for attempted murder it is "one to twenty years." The defendant answered affirmatively to all of these questions. The court then said:
"THE COURT: And knowing what your rights are and your privileges, it is your desire to stand here and enter a plea of guilty?
THE COURT: Now, the State's Attorney or his staff hasn't promised you anything; have they?
THE COURT: They haven't offered you anything or threatened you to induce this action on your part?
THE DEFENDANT: No, sir, they haven't.
THE COURT: In other words, we want to make sure that it is your free and voluntary act knowing exactly the ...