Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Fourth Division
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.
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3 In an unpublished order filed on September 11, 2014, this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.
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
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.