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People v. Mitros

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Fourth Division

November 10, 2016

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
ANTHONY MITROS, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 88 CR 8544 Honorable Kenneth J. Wadas, Judge Presiding.

          JUSTICE HOWSE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Fitzgerald Smith and Cobbs concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          HOWSE, JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 In 1989, defendant Anthony Mitros entered an open plea of guilty to intentional murder (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 38, ¶ 9-1(a)(1)) and residential burglary (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 38, ¶ 19-3(a)). The trial court entered respective sentences of natural life imprisonment and 15 years in prison, to be served concurrently.

         ¶ 2 This appeal involves defendant's 2011 pro se petition for relief from judgment pursuant to section 2-1401 of the Code of Civil Procedure (the Code) (735 ILCS 5/2-1401 (West 2010)). In that petition, defendant sought to vacate his guilty plea and argued that his sentence was void. The circuit court dismissed the petition sua sponte, stating defendant had not presented a claim that entitled him to relief. On appeal, defendant contended that his sentence of natural life imprisonment was not authorized by statute because the court relied on a predicate felony that was not included in the murder statute at the time of his offense.

         ¶ 3 In an unpublished order filed on September 11, 2014, this court found that defendant's sentence was void as unauthorized by statute. This court remanded this case for defendant to be resentenced. People v. Mitros, 2014 IL App (1st) 121432-U.

         ¶ 4 Subsequently, on January 20, 2016, the Illinois Supreme Court denied the State's petition for leave to appeal but issued a supervisory order directing this court to vacate that judgment and reconsider the case in light of People v. Castleberry, 2015 IL 116916, to determine whether a different result was warranted. The parties have filed supplemental briefs addressing that case's applicability.

         ¶ 5 After reconsidering this case in light of Castleberry, we conclude that decision applies retroactively to defendant's case and that defendant can no longer challenge his sentence as void. Therefore, the circuit court's order dismissing defendant's section 2-1401 petition is affirmed.[1]

         ¶ 6 BACKGROUND

         ¶ 7 Based on events that occurred on May 24, 1988, defendant was charged with three counts of first degree murder, two counts of residential burglary, one count of armed robbery, and several other counts relating to the stabbing death of Helen McCasland in the course of a home burglary. As to the murder counts, count I charged defendant with intentional murder (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 38, ¶ 9-1(a)(1)). Count II charged defendant with knowing murder (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 38, ¶ 9-1(a)(2)). Count III charged defendant with felony murder, specifically murder during the commission of the forcible felony of armed robbery (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 38, ¶ 9- 1(a)(3)). Count IV charged defendant with residential burglary (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 38, ¶ 19-3(a)).

         ¶ 8 On May 26, 1989, defendant entered an open plea of guilty to intentional murder (count I) and residential burglary (count IV). All of the remaining charges against defendant, including armed robbery, were nol-prossed. Defendant stipulated to the presence of an aggravating factor that would qualify him to receive the death penalty; that aggravating factor is not identified in the record.

         ¶ 9 The case was continued to June 16, 1989, for the second stage of sentencing. The court noted: "On the last court date the defendant agreed that, in fact, a qualification factor was present whereby the defendant would be subject to the death penalty; that being the commission of the offense of residential burglary and felony murder."

         ¶ 10 The court sentenced defendant to natural life without the possibility of parole on count I and to 15 years in prison on count III, which the court called "the less serious of the murder allegations." The mittimus establishes that the court imposed a natural life sentence on count I for intentional murder and 15 years on count IV for residential burglary.

         ¶ 11 Defendant did not move to vacate his guilty plea, and no appeal was taken. Defendant later filed a pro se petition under the Post-Conviction Hearing Act (725 ILCS 5/122-1 et seq. (West 2002)), which was dismissed at the second stage of review. On appeal, this court affirmed. Pe ...


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