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People v. Beronich

October 11, 2002

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
IAN M. BERONICH, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kane County. No. 90-CF-516 Honorable Philip L. DiMarzio, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Bowman

Released for publication October 16, 2002.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
IAN M. BERONICH, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kane County. No. 90-CF-516 Honorable Philip L. DiMarzio, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Bowman

PUBLISH

Defendant, Ian Beronich, appeals the circuit court's order that dismissed his second amended post-conviction petition. Defendant contends his guilty plea to first-degree murder (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1989, ch. 38, par. 9--1(b)) was involuntary because the court admonished him that he was eligible for an extended-term sentence but the extended-term sentencing statute was later rendered unconstitutional by Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466, 147 L. Ed. 2d 435, 120 S. Ct. 2348 (2000).

On April 10, 1990, defendant was indicted for murder and other offenses in connection with the death of Thomas Cochrane. Represented by attorney F. Keith Brown, defendant entered a negotiated guilty plea on November 28, 1990. In exchange for the plea, the State agreed to recommend a 50-year prison sentence and nol-pros the remaining charges.

The trial court admonished defendant that the normal sentencing range for murder was 30 to 60 years. Later, the court stated that the sentence could be between 20 and 60 years' imprisonment. The court also said, "Sometimes it can be extended to 60 to 100 years based upon the nature of the event, whether it was heinous or brutal or other factors." The prosecutor interjected that defendant was eligible for a sentence of natural-life imprisonment because the victim was a potential witness in a prosecution. The court added that the life sentence would be without the possibility of parole. The court also told defendant that he would serve 25 years or a little less of the 50-year sentence, assuming his good behavior in prison.

The court advised defendant of the rights that he was giving up by pleading guilty. Defendant said that no one had forced him to plead guilty, that he had sufficient time to consult with counsel, and that he had no complaints about his lawyer.

After hearing the factual basis, the court accepted the plea as knowing and voluntary. The court concurred in the negotiated disposition and sentenced defendant to 50 years' imprisonment.

Defendant did not file a direct appeal. On October 23, 1997, he filed a pro se petition pursuant to the Post-Conviction Hearing Act (the Act) (725 ILCS 5/122--1 et seq. (West 1996)), alleging several grounds for relief. Defendant's affidavit and other exhibits accompanied the petition. On April 16, 1998, the trial court dismissed some of the claims as frivolous and patently without merit, but appointed the public defender to represent defendant on the remaining claims.

Attorney Donald Zuelke filed an amended petition which included allegations that defendant had not been culpably negligent in filing the petition beyond the three-year time limit the Act allows (725 ILCS 5/122--1(c) (West 1996)). After a hearing, the court found that defendant was not culpably negligent for filing the petition late, but denied the remaining claims on their merits.

On appeal, this court held that the trial court erred by summarily dismissing any of the petition's claims because the court initially considered the petition beyond the Act's 90-day time limit for summary action (725 ILCS 5/122--2.1(a) (West 1996)). People v. Beronich, ...


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