Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Fifth Division
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 00 CR 15730 Honorable Garritt E. Howard, Judge Presiding.
JUSTICE McBRIDE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Gordon and Justice Palmer concurred in the judgment and opinion.
¶ 1 Defendant Richard Young appeals from an order of the circuit court of Cook County denying his petition for relief under the Post-Conviction Hearing Act (725 ILCS 5/122-1 et seq. (West 2010)) after an evidentiary hearing. On appeal, defendant has abandoned the allegations in his petition and contends, for the first time, that the sentences he received as a result of his negotiated guilty pleas were void because they did not include the mandatory statutory firearm enhancement compelled by the indictments and factual basis for the offenses. He, therefore, requests that his cause be remanded to the circuit court where he can withdraw his guilty pleas and plead anew, or proceed to trial on the charges.
¶ 2 On January 5, 2004, defendant entered negotiated pleas of guilty to first degree murder and attempted murder and was sentenced to consecutive terms of 25 and 10 years' imprisonment, respectively. The trial court admonished defendant as to the charges for which he was entering a guilty plea and the sentence guidelines. Specifically, the court told defendant that the sentencing range for first degree murder was 20 to 60 years with 3 years of mandatory supervised release, and the sentencing range for attempted first degree murder was 6 to 30 years with 3 years of mandatory supervised release. The court also stated that the sentences would be served consecutively. The court also advised defendant that by pleading guilty, defendant was giving up his right to a trial in front of either a judge or a jury and specifically asked defendant if he understood what a jury trial was. The court asked defendant if he wished to have a trial or plead guilty, and defendant responded that he wished to plead guilty. Defendant confirmed that his signature was on the jury waiver form. The court also inquired of defendant if anyone had said or done anything to force defendant to plead guilty. Defendant said that he understood his jury waiver and denied that anyone had forced him to plead guilty. The State offered the following factual basis for the plea.
¶ 3 Pam Waters would testify that on June 6, 2000, she was in the area of 1206 Pitner in Evanston, Illinois, with a number of other individuals, including Richard Tinch. She was seated in a car with the door open. A dark blue Oldsmobile with a driver and passenger slowly drove by and then stopped. The passenger then fired multiple gunshots out of the window and gang slogans were yelled. Waters suffered a gunshot to her leg and Tinch died as a result of a gunshot wound.
¶ 4 An investigator would testify that defendant was arrested in connection with the shooting and on June 8, 2000, he gave a court-reported statement. In the statement, he admitted that he was the passenger in the Oldsmobile and codefendant Kevin Jones was the driver. Defendant was in possession of a loaded gun and his intention was to shoot a rival. Defendant and Jones went to an area where they believed they could find the rival. Jones drove into the alley at 1206 Pitner and stopped the car. Defendant then fired a number of shots out of the car window and into a crowd of people. Defendant told the investigator that he later learned that he had shot and killed Tinch.
¶ 5 The trial court then entered the finding of guilty for the first degree murder of Tinch and the attempted murder of Waters.
¶ 6 Defendant filed a pro se motion to withdraw his pleas, alleging that they were the result of coercion and ineffective assistance of trial counsel. Defendant was appointed other counsel on his motion, who filed a supplemental motion alleging that defendant was coerced into pleading guilty and had a valid alibi defense that trial counsel failed to investigate. On March 1, 2005, defense counsel filed an amended motion to withdraw the guilty pleas in which he realleged the allegation of coercion.
¶ 7 At the hearing on the motion to withdraw his guilty pleas, defendant and three public defenders, including the attorney who represented him at the guilty plea proceedings, testified. Following that hearing, the court denied defendant's motion to withdraw finding that defendant's responses to the court's inquiries regarding the voluntariness of his pleas contradicted his claims.
¶ 8 On appeal, defendant argued that he should be allowed to withdraw his guilty pleas because trial counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate his alibi defense, that there was other exculpatory evidence, that he was innocent, and that he was coerced into pleading guilty by trial counsels' strong-arm tactics. This court affirmed, finding, in particular, that defendant was not coerced into pleading guilty. People v. Young, No. 1-05-0620 (2006) (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23).
¶ 9 On January 5, 2007, defendant, through private counsel, filed a postconviction petition alleging ineffective assistance of trial counsel for failing to properly investigate and present his alibi defense. Counsel also filed an amended postconviction petition, alleging that defendant was coerced into pleading guilty, that there was no probable cause for his arrest, and that he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel.
¶ 10 In support of the petition, defendant attached the affidavit of Earl Arthurs, who averred that defendant was with him on June 6, 2000, "all day long; from early morning to late in the evening." Defendant also attached his own affidavit in which he attested that he was coerced into pleading guilty. He averred that he told his attorney about his alibi defense and that his attorney claimed that she contacted Arthurs and that he would not cooperate in his defense. Defendant averred that Arthurs never told him that his attorney contacted him or asked him to be a witness at his trial. Defendant further averred that his attorney told him that she could not defend him because she could not come up with a defense for him and that she, along with another attorney and their supervisor, ganged up on him to try to convince him to plead guilty, telling him that the only chance he had at seeing the world again was if he pleaded guilty.
¶ 11 Defendant also attached the affidavit of assistant public defender Frederick Weil, who averred that, based on his investigation and the accompanying affidavits, he concluded that defendant did not want to plead guilty to the charged offenses, that he had a valid alibi defense that he wished to present at trial, and that his appointed counsel failed to properly investigate the alibi defense. Weil further averred that defendant's guilty plea was not voluntarily and willingly made, and defendant felt coerced into pleading guilty by his attorneys, who told him that they could not defend him at trial.
¶ 12 On April 23, 2007, the State filed a motion to dismiss defendant's petition. The circuit court denied the motion, and advanced the petition to the third stage for an evidentiary hearing. That hearing was held on May 11, 2011, where Mary Hayashi, who represented defendant at the guilty plea proceedings, testified that she recommended that defendant plead guilty, but she did not tell him that he had to do so. Hayashi also testified that she litigated several pretrial motions on defendant's behalf, including motions to quash and suppress, but they were unsuccessful. Hayashi stated that, as a result, the evidence against defendant was overwhelming, including defendant's confession and the gun used. She also investigated Arthurs, who was a fellow gang member of defendant, and found that he changed the time defendant was with him twice, telling her that defendant was with him around 5 or 6 p.m. and then said it was 7 p.m., but the shooting occurred at 10 p.m. Hayashi further testified that defendant was not amenable to her suggested defense that someone else committed the murder, because the person they were going to accuse was a high-ranking member of his gang. Hayashi told defendant that it was in his best interest to plead guilty in light of the overwhelming evidence against him and the fact that his alibi defense was not viable.
¶ 13 The court found Hayashi to be a highly credible witness whose testimony refuted defendant's allegations and the allegations in the affidavits. The court found that Hayashi provided highly competent representation and that defendant was not coerced into pleading guilty. The court subsequently denied defendant's petition. This appeal follows.
¶ 14 On appeal, defendant contends solely, and for the first time, that the sentences he received as a result of his negotiated guilty pleas were void because they did not include the mandatory statutory firearm enhancement. In support of his contention, defendant cites People v. White, 2011 IL 109616, and requests that his cause be remanded to ...