Appeal from the Circuit Court of Richland County. No. 96-CF-70 Honorable Patrick F. McLaughlin, Judge, presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Hopkins
--Rule 23 Order filed November 23, 1998;
The defendant, Edward F. Travis, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to 40 years' imprisonment and to pay expenses incurred by the victim's family as a result of defendant's actions. He filed motions to withdraw the plea of guilty and to reduce sentence, which were denied after an evidentiary hearing, with the exception that the portion of the judgment order providing for restitution was vacated. Defense counsel filed his certificate pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 604(d) (134 Ill. 2d R. 604(d)). The notice of appeal was then filed. The only issue on appeal is whether this cause should be remanded for further proceedings because the certificate was not filed prior to the hearing.
On July 2, 1996, a Richland County grand jury returned a one- count indictment that charged defendant with first-degree murder (720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(2) (West 1996)). The indictment charged defendant with driving an automobile into a pond, which caused the death of Eric Mack, who was a passenger in the automobile. Mack was five years old at the time of his death.
On that same date the indictment was returned, Kimbara G. Harrell was appointed to represent defendant. Larry D. Dunn was the State's Attorney of Richland County. The Honorable Patrick F. McLaughlin presided.
On October 21, 1996, defendant pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in exchange for the State's promise not to prove the age of the victim. First-degree murder involving a victim under the age 12 requires a natural-life sentence. 730 ILCS 5/5-8-1(a)(1)(c)(ii) (West 1996).
On November 21, 1996, Judge McLaughlin sentenced defendant to 40 years' imprisonment and found that defendant would have to serve 100% of his sentence. Defendant was also sentenced to pay the funeral expenses of the child and $500 for the automobile. On the same date, a well- reasoned judgment order was entered.
On December 19, 1996, attorney Harrell filed a motion to reconsider sentence, a motion to withdraw plea of guilty, and a motion for transcript. The motion to reconsider sentence alleged that the sentence is excessive as defendant will have to serve 100% of the sentence, excessive considering the circumstances of the case, and excessive as defendant has no means to pay the restitution. The motion to withdraw guilty plea alleged that the plea was not voluntary because defendant is mildly retarded, has been diagnosed as having adjustment disorder with mixed disturbance of emotion and conduct, and has limited comprehension. The motion further alleged that defendant was under duress at the time of the plea. On December 30, 1996, Judge McLaughlin ordered the preparation of the transcript.
On May 8, 1997, defendant file a pro se petition to withdraw guilty plea and vacate sentence, which alleged the ineffective assistance of counsel.
Sometime in early 1997, attorney Harrell became State's Attorney of Richland County and Judge McLaughlin became a federal administrative law Judge. Allan F. Lolie of the State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor of Springfield, Illinois, was appointed special prosecutor. On May 7, 1997, William R. Hoffeditz was appointed defense counsel.
The Honorable John I. Lundmark presided at the July 30, 1997, hearing on the postplea motions.
On August 13, 1997, Judge Lundmark denied the postplea motions, with the exception that the restitution portion of the judgment order was vacated.
On September 11, 1997, attorney Hoffeditz filed his Rule ...