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People v. Hopson

OPINION FILED NOVEMBER 12, 1981.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

WILLIAM HOPSON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Du Page County; the Hon. JOHN BOWMAN, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE REINHARD DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

___ N.E.2d ___ Defendant, William Hopson, entered a plea of guilty pursuant to a negotiated plea agreement with the State's Attorney. Defendant later filed a motion to withdraw his plea. After a hearing, the court denied the motion. Defendant now appeals and alleges that the trial court erred in denying his motion to withdraw his guilty plea and that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel on that motion.

On June 14, 1979, defendant was charged in a five-count indictment with the offense of murder. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 38, par. 9-1.) On December 6, 1979, at a conference held pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 402 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 110A, par. 402) and prior to the court's acceptance of defendant's guilty plea, the assistant State's Attorney related that the defendant's guilty plea was to be entered pursuant to a plea agreement whereby defendant agreed to testify in the prosecution of two co-defendants in cases which arose from the same incident. In return for the defendant's testimony, the State agreed to recommend that defendant receive 20 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. The court then concurred in the plea agreement. Immediately thereafter, the defendant entered a plea of guilty to murder as alleged in count I. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 38, par. 9-1(a)(1).

The court then informed the defendant of the charges against him as follows:

"Now, the nature of the charge is that on or about May 21, 1979, in DuPage County, you committed the offense of murder in that, without lawful justification and with intent to kill Scott Brunoehler, you strangled Scott Brunoehler, thereby causing the death of Scott Brunoehler * * *."

In response to the question of whether he understood the charges, the defendant said, "Yes. I do." The court then admonished the defendant pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 402, and the assistant State's Attorney articulated the factual basis for the guilty plea as follows.

On May 21, 1979, the body of Scott R. Brunoehler, an inmate at the Du Page County jail, was discovered hanging from a light fixture in the jail. The defendant was also incarcerated in the jail at the time of Brunoehler's death. Investigation by the Du Page County sheriff's office revealed that Brunoehler's death was caused by defendant and two other inmates, James Devin and Robert Gangestead.

The defendant's participation in the crime involved holding down the victim's feet while one of the other individuals held down his arms and the third individual strangled the victim with a rope. The defendant and Robert Gangestead then held up the victim's body while James Devin tied the rope around a padlock, apparently suspended from the ceiling, "in such a manner as to make it appear as if the offense had been a suicide * * *."

On May 24, 1979, defendant gave a full confession to Detectives Tanke and Glinski of the Du Page County Sheriff's Office. In the confession, Hopson indicated that James Devin told him that there was going to be a "blanket party." Defendant observed James Devin take out a rope which had been braided from bed sheets and make the statement "[s]nitches don't live." The defendant made similar confessions to Detective Allen McKechnie, assistant State's Attorneys Charles Emery and Robert Anderson on May 25, 1979, and to Deputy Robert Quinn of the sheriff's office on May 30, 1979.

After the assistant State's Attorney articulated the factual basis for the plea the following colloquy ensued:

"MR. ANDERSON: I believe that the defendant has indicated that he is pleading guilty because he did so participate.

Is that correct, Mr. Hopson?

DEFENDANT HOPSON: I'm sorry, Yes.

THE COURT: Are those the facts that the State's evidence would show, Mr. Hopson?

DEFENDANT HOPSON: Yes."

The court then accepted defendant's plea of guilty and set the date for the sentencing hearing.

At the sentencing hearing on May 1, 1980, the State nolle prossed counts II through V in the indictment and recommended a sentence of 20 years in the Department of Corrections. In response to ...


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